Tag Archives: finance

Analysis: Trump’s border wall faces reality check

President Donald Trump’s vow to accelerate construction of a “contiguous, physical wall” along the Mexican border is slamming into a Washington reality— who’s going to pay for it and how?

Continue reading Analysis: Trump’s border wall faces reality check

Wisconsin communities vote to amend, overturn Citizens United

Wisconsin voters in 18 communities Nov. 8 voted for non-binding referenda to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that money is not the same thing as free speech and overturn Citizens United.

“People across the ideological spectrum get it: All of our voices are being drowned out by those with big money,” said Matt Rothschild, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The questions were approved with overwhelming majorities:

• Rock County (86 percent)

• Reedsburg (86 percent)

• Manitowoc (81 percent)

• Delafield (79 percent)

• Neshkoro (88 percent)

• New Glarus (88 percent)

• Spring Valley (91 percent)

• Osceola (86 percent)

• Mt. Horeb (84 percent)

• Monticello (86 percent)

• Clayton (86 percent)

• New Glarus (83 percent)

• Harris (65 percent)

• Springdale (86 percent)

• Decatur (89 percent)

• Mount Pleasant (84 percent)

• Cadiz (87 percent)

• Lake Tomahawk (91 percent)

A total of 96 Wisconsin communities — home to 2.8 million people — have called for an amendment.

Across the country, 18 state legislatures have voted for a constitutional amendment, as well as more than 700 towns, villages, cities and counties.

Jeanette Kelty, a leader of the amendment movement in Green County, said the morning after the election, “We are extremely pleased that these referenda passed by such high margins. This clearly demonstrates the will of the people. It is time for our state representatives to put this resolution to a statewide vote, and to move towards sending a resolution from Wisconsin to the U.S. Congress.”

Four in five Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision, according to a Bloomberg poll. A New York Times/CBS poll.

“Big money has absolutely corrupted our system of government of, by, and for the people,” said Gerry Flakas of Delafield, another activist involved in the amendment push. “The only solution is to amend the Constitution to clarify that money is not speech and a corporation is not a person.”

On the Web

United To Amend is a non-partisan, grassroots movement. For more information visit wiuta.org.

Obama: Deniers of economic gains aren’t telling the truth

President Barack Obama in a recent speech in Florida rejected relentless Republican criticism of his economic leadership, saying his policies are paying off in “big tangible ways” and anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that is “not telling the truth.”

With some of the remaining GOP presidential candidates accusing one another of lying, Obama stopped short of accusing them of doing the same regarding his record.

He bristled at their claims that the economy remains weak and cited 71 consecutive months of job creation and an unemployment rate that has fallen by more than half to 4.9 percent.

“You don’t hear a lot about this from the folks who are on the campaign trail,” Obama said. “Anybody who says we are not absolutely better off today than we were just seven years ago, they’re not leveling with you, they’re not telling the truth.”

“By almost every economic measure, we are significantly better off,” he said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., disagreed and argued that Obama’s policies have led to one of the slowest economic recoveries in U.S. history. Among those policies is the Recovery Act, the $760 billion economic stimulus bill Obama pushed through Congress with scant Republican support. He was only in office a few weeks at the time, and was attempting to halt the worst economic downturn in generations.

“After seven years of progressive policies, we are skipping along the bottom of economic growth and headed toward $20 trillion of debt,” Ryan said.

Obama made his case for the Recovery Act during a visit to a Saft battery plant in Jacksonville, Florida, which was built using stimulus money.

With just months left in office and the Republican presidential candidates criticizing his leadership on all fronts, Obama is trying to burnish his legacy as the president who pulled the country back from the brink of a depression.

He visited Detroit last month to highlight the resurgent U.S. auto industry, which was aided by a federal bailout.

Stimulus money was spent on transportation infrastructure, clean energy and other public investments. It was also used to cut taxes for middle-class and working families, provide businesses with tax relief and offer assistance to financially strapped states.

More than $90 billion was spent to boost the clean energy industry to help shift the country away from foreign oil and create jobs. Despite some high-profile failures on that front, Obama sees spending on the burgeoning industry as a bright spot of the stimulus.

The solar company Solyndra was the first company to get a federal loan guarantee under an existing program that Obama expanded under the stimulus. But the company failed soon after receiving the guarantee, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $500 million. Republicans and other critics have cited Solyndra as an example of wasteful spending under a program they say did little to boost the economy while driving up federal deficits.

Economists generally believe the stimulus program helped keep the recession from spiraling into another depression. A survey of economists by the University of Chicago found that 82 percent believed the stimulus spending had pushed unemployment lower by the end of 2010 than it would have been without the spending. Just over half of the economists surveyed, 56 percent, said the benefits of the stimulus exceeded the costs.

Obama noted that the Saft lithium-ion battery plant didn’t exist when he took office. The company won a $95.5 million Recovery Act grant and matched that money to build the factory, which opened in 2011 and created 280 jobs.

“This was an example of the fruit of those investments that we made,” Obama said.

Reported by DARLENE SUPERVILLE for the Associated Press.

New Koch super PAC reports donors

Some of the most powerful political committees faced a deadline this week to reveal how much cash they raised and spent during July, August and September.

It was likely to be one the last times before Nov. 4’s elections that voters could see how millions of dollars were flowing into outside campaign groups.

Only groups that report their money in three-month windows were filing on Oct. 15. Groups that file on a monthly basis, such as the Republican National Committee or the Democratic-backed Senate Majority PAC, face a deadline next week to report how much they raised in September.

Highlights:

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS ALMOST CATCH GOP

The Republican Governors Association typically outpaces its Democratic rivals by an almost 2-to-1 margin. That changed in the last three months, with the Democratic Governors Association almost catching the GOP group.

Democrats’ committee to elect governors raised almost $20 million during the most recent quarter, taking its fundraising tally for the year to $47 million. It was a record three-month haul for the DGA, and double what it raised during the same period four years ago.

The Republican Governors Association, meanwhile, said it raised $21.5 million in the same time frame that ended Sept. 30. That’s significantly less than the $31 million it raised during the same period in 2010 and less than some were expecting from the group, which is led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The RGA says it remains on pace to spend $100 million this year. It has raised $72 million this year.

Neither group, however, revealed how much of that they had banked so it’s impossible to know how much each spent so far.

Voters will elect governors in 36 states on Nov. 4.

KOCH SUPER PAC SHOWS HAND

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tended to favor using tax-exempt organizations to influence voters’ opinions, but they are now starting to work as a political super PAC. That shift now means that they can be explicitly political — but they also have to disclose the donors who have helped them raise $15.6 million since June 13.

Combined, the Kochs gave $4 million directly to the newly-minted Freedom Partners Action Fund through trust funds that have their names listed.

The single biggest donor, however, was Robert Mercer. The New York hedge fund manager wrote a $2.5 million check to the group.

The group also collected $1 million from Arkansas-based Mountaire Corporation, one of the largest poultry producers in the United States. Company Chairman and CEO Ronald Cameron is a prominent donor to conservative causes and groups.

The group received $1 million from Diane Hendricks, the widow of Wisconsin roofing giant Ken Hendricks. Mrs. Hendricks is among the richest women in Wisconsin and an ally of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

And the group collected another $1 million from a trust in the name of trucking magnate Clarence Werner of Nebraska.

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is the hub of the Koch political network, gave almost $1 million to the super PAC. Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce does not disclose its donors but the Kochs are widely seen as patrons of that group, as well.

CARSON GETS LOW-DOLLAR DONORS

Two political committees with eyes on a Ben Carson for President campaign have raised a combined total of almost $5 million in the last three months, and have collected almost $14 million even before 2016 begins. And it’s mostly from small-dollar donors who could be persuaded to open their wallets again.

One Carson-linked group, the American Legacy PAC, raised more than $1.5 million during the three-month quarter that ended in October. Of that, $1.2 million came in donations of $200 or less.

Another, the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, raised $3.3 million during the same period. Of that, $2.5 million came from donors who gave less than $200.

Carson is a retired neurosurgeon and a popular figure among his party’s conservative base, especially donors who give $10 here and there. He is mulling a White House run and his supporters are trying to encourage him to say yes to a campaign.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 2012, is involved in the American Legacy political committee.

BEING READY IS NOT CHEAP

A better-known potential 2016 contender, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was also getting encouragement from an outside group.

The Ready for Hillary super PAC raised $2 million from grassroots donors who want to see another Clinton presidency. Ready for Hillary capped donations at $25,000 per person because fundraising is not its focus.

If Clinton runs, the group would not be paying for the costly TV ads. A super PAC that formed for President Barack Obama’s re-election bid, Priorities USA, stands ready to fill that role for Clinton in the likely campaign.

Instead, Ready for Hillary has focused on building buzz for Clinton, selling merchandise with her likeness and collecting contact information to hand over to an expected campaign in 2016.

But laying the groundwork isn’t cheap. Ready for Hillary spent $2.1 million in the last three months.

Since it formed, Ready for Hillary has raised $6.2 million.

If Clinton decides to seek the Democratic nomination again, she would instantly be seen as the front-runner.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

• The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s political arm spent almost $12 million over the summer to help its favored candidates. Total spending from the Republican-leaning group now stands at $26 million.

• The conservative American Action Network made almost $1 million in outside spending to help like-minded candidates. The non-profit group was founded by super-donor Fred Malek and former Sen. Norm Coleman.

• Failed presidential contenders continued to be laden with debt. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, continues to carry $476,000 in red ink from his 2012 campaign. Gingrich, now a CNN contributor, continues to carry $4.7 million in debt from his 2012 effort.

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Walker says he didn’t solicit mining company money

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is saying that he played no role in soliciting donations from a mining company on behalf of a key conservative group that ran ads supporting him during the 2012 recall attempt and that he didn’t even know the company donated to the group.

While at a Kenosha campaign stop over the weekend, Walker said he was not aware of $700,000 donated by Gogebic Taconite in 2011 and 2012 to Wisconsin Club for Growth, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

When asked if the donations and subsequent legislation last year — which streamlined state mining requirements and paved the way for an iron mine in northern Wisconsin — were part of some pay-to-play scheme, Walker said, “That’s a ridiculous argument.”

Walker said he had long been supportive of easing regulations on mining.

Court documents released last week by a federal appeals court show that prosecutors believe Walker solicited donations for Wisconsin Club for Growth to get around campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements as he fended off the recall attempt.

Aides told Walker to tell donors that they could make unlimited donations to Wisconsin Club for Growth without having the gifts publicly disclosed. Wisconsin Club for Growth then funneled the money to other conservative groups that advertised on Walker’s behalf.

It’s not clear from the documents whether Walker followed the instructions from his team. But the documents say millions of dollars later moved from donors he was set to speak with to Wisconsin Club for Growth, which in turn funded groups backing Walker in the recall election.

The documents are part of a secret investigation into whether Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups during the run-up to the June 2012 recall, which was spurred by anger over Walker’s signature law stripping most public workers of nearly all their union rights. The probe has dogged Walker as he is locked in a dead heat with Democratic Mary Burke in the governor’s race and considers a 2016 presidential run.

At a later Racine stop over the weekend, Walker said he helped solicit contributions to Wisconsin Club for Growth in 2011 primarily to help Republican state Senators who faced recalls.

He said he is not raising funds for Wisconsin Club for Growth in the current election. He also said he doesn’t believe he raised funds for the group during his 2010 campaign for governor.

A federal judge in Milwaukee halted the secret probe in May after Wisconsin Club for Growth filed a lawsuit alleging the investigation violated its free speech rights and the prosecutors are liberals out to harass and tarnish conservatives.

The prosecutors have asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to restart the probe. The court released the documents tied to that appeal in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of media and open government groups.

The documents became briefly available on a federal court website last Friday. Attorneys have been arguing over which ones should be made public, and the records were quickly removed.

Coalition urges constitutional amendment to rein in campaign spending

Several dozen groups representing an array of interests called this week on the U.S. Senate to back a constitutional amendment to rein in out-of-control campaign spending.

The groups, in a letter to senators, urged support for S.J. Res. 19, a proposed constitutional amendment to establish that Congress and the states have the power to regulate and limit election spending.

“We know that America will never deliver on its promise if our election system is dominated by big money interests,” wrote advocates of the amendment, including Public Citizen, USAction, Common Cause, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, National Education Association, NAACP, Franciscan Action Network, Pesticide Action Network and Communications Workers of America.

S.J. Res. 19 would overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. FEC. The amendment also would overturn the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling, which established the doctrine colloquially known as “money equals speech.”

The letter said: “America faces great and serious challenges — putting people back to work, addressing deepening inequality, averting catastrophic climate change, fixing our schools, ensuring quality and affordable health care for all, and much more. Our country has the wealth and wherewithal, and the creativity and conscience, to meet these challenges. But we will fall short unless we repair our democracy.

“We do not lightly call for amending our great Constitution. But we know that there can be no greater constitutional purpose than ensuring the functioning of our democracy. We urge you in the strongest terms to support S.J. Res. 19, so that it quickly becomes the 28th Amendment to our Constitution.”

DiCaprio condemns Wall Street’s reckless greed and hedonism

The role that recently won Leonardo DiCaprio a Golden Globe Award and his fourth Oscar nomination is easily the most outrageous in the celebrated actor’s career. In Wolf of Wall Street, the once-innocuous boy who boarded the Titanic delves into the shocking excesses of wealth, greed, sex and drugs that tanked (temporarily) the life of real-life mega stockbroker Jordan Belfort. Fortunately, the 39-year-old actor is much too serious and sober to bask in such extremes in his own life. Although the Oscar-nominated film has been criticized for glamorizing the reckless hedonism of Wall Street while ignoring its victims, DiCaprio condemns the financial power mongers, the “almighty dollar” and the need for altruism.

I spoke with DiCaprio in Los Angeles.

Francesco Orsini: What have you learned about money from making this movie? What brings the wolf out in you?

Leonardo DiCaprio: I don’t know what gets the wolf out of me. Certain times people see movies about gangsters and all kinds of different worlds, and you never know how they are going to react to them. Some might see a certain film and say, “Yeah, I want to be like that guy. You know how many brokers that I spoke to that said, “I want to be that dude?” That dude crashed and burned, and they were like, “That’s what inspired me to get into the world of finance (laughs).” So you never know. I see obviously that if you have nothing else to ground you and if you have nothing else of equal value to your life, it could completely consume you and you could cut all kinds of corners in pursuit of that and it seems like an addiction, like a drug.

Why do you think this movie resonates today? 

I don’t know. Wall Street is a very tough subject matter to put in the title. People have a distaste for the people in the world of finance, and it’s not like you hear the words “Wall Street” and you want to go rushing to the theaters. But ultimately to me it’s not necessarily about Wall Street, it’s about this corrupted version of the American dream. That’s very representational of the time that we live in. As the economy keeps expanding, as our populations keeps growing, we keep acting as if there are endless resources and that we can keep expanding without any kind of downturn.

Do you think things will get better?

The state of things right now is pretty bizarre to me. It seems surreal. It’s pretty outrageous how the almighty dollar seems to rule everything and people are suffering — and our planet is suffering. It’s almost like a war zone out there from an environmentalist perspective to keep some of these sacred places intact, even to fight for things that have no voice because the economy keeps driving forward. It’s depressing to me that the almighty dollar seems to be the god of modern times. People get richer and richer, and prices seem to be surging. I thought we were in an economic downturn, and I look around, and I look at apartments in New York and things are quadruple the price that they were. It all makes no sense to me. And let’s not forget one thing: Jordan Belfort is a little minnow. There are whales out there that have decimated our economy for billions and billions of dollars. That’s what happens in an unregulated society and structure where people aren’t watched over and don’t need to pay the price for (their) actions. And this was a cycle that I feel that keeps happening in this country, where you have to reinvent our entire financial institutions, because there is one loophole and then everything gets funneled into that. It happened in the 1930s, it happened back then and it just happened recently. It’s like there needs to be a reset button in a system where there are no rules. People will certainly take advantage of it.

Are you personally interested in the finance industry?

I don’t follow the stock market whatsoever. It really made no sense to me and no sense to Marty (Scorsese, the film’s director) either, which is why we spoke directly to the camera and said, “Anyway, I know this shit is confusing to you, the point is, were they doing something illegal?” Absolutely, (they) were, and (my character) was getting really rich. That was our approach with this film. Because if you do a film that’s intricately about the world of finance, people are just going to zone out. It’s about the nature of what’s within us. And what I loved about Jordan Belfort’s book was the fact that he was so honest about that. It’s like the guy was writing down some incredibly embarrassing things.

Some people say the movie is quite apologetic of his path that he took in life. 

I think what he was doing was deplorable, and he’ll tell you the same thing. He looks at that period of his life as a time for learning. He’s now the way we picture him at the end of the movie. He’s going out doing seminars like the Tony Robbins-style seminars and talking about his past and mistakes that he’s made, the dark path that he went down. He is divulging all this stuff because he wants to teach people a lesson.

Do you think he has changed as a person?

I can only see the man, and I have gotten to know the man. I think we all want to vilify people for their past, and by no means do I not hold him accountable or responsible for what he did. But I see somebody that is trying everything they possibly can to change that and do something positive. So, I can certainly relate to that.

What was it actually like to enact such a story? After all he had quite an excessive life.

It was crazy. I could understand getting into that mind frame and then bending one little rule here, and then finding a little gray area of the law here and entering that, just to keep the machine going. It’s almost like he built this cult, and I really felt it when I was doing these speeches, because I’d been thinking about these speeches for like six years, and I had it very planned out. There were these Braveheart-type of speeches that I was giving to my brokers. But instead of fighting for their own personal freedom of their country, it was about going out and screwing as many people over as possible. It wasn’t until I really got on stage that I felt what Jordan must have felt like. The adoration — you feel like you’ve become Bono, or something like that. You feel like this crazy rock star.

Did you recognize the feeling from when you became a big star in Hollywood?

It’s a much different dynamic. When you do a movie, there’s always the distance from your audience, via the screen and having it be projected as opposed to being onstage.

Do you envy him?

Oh, I don’t envy the life that he lived, no.

How do you find something likeable in a character who’s essentially quite repulsive?

The truth is, I didn’t really think about whether he was likeable or not likeable. I just keyed into his motivation and ambition. That’s probably what audiences latch onto. Marty said to me very early on, “It’s important to do films that are about the darker side of human nature. As long as you don’t try to sugarcoat who they are, and you don’t try to tack on some false sense of sympathy that you think the audience can identify with. If you’re authentic about the way you portray them, the audiences are going to go on that journey with you no matter what.”

You bought the rights for his story in 2008. Why did it take so long to bring it to the screen?

It was percolating in the air, I wanted to do it right afterwards, immediately, and we were going to. It’s a very modern movie. But such incredibly complex films are almost impossible to finance nowadays, no matter who you have. Because this just doesn’t fit the template of the category of OK dramas and other films are below this budget — and everything else above this budget has to have this explosion, this robot, and whatever, and all that other stuff and otherwise we’re not doing it. 

You’re quite wealthy yourself. Do you use this money just for yourself?

I think it’s very important to give back, too. Everyone’s responsibility, who is in a position of power and wealth, should be to do something for your community or the world. I don’t judge people who are in positions of power or have wealth, as long as they’re responsible with it, and there are a lot of incredibly responsible people out there. But I think that there’s too many reckless ones.

Voter courtship: Ballots in 4 states contain gay-marriage measures

Voters in four states are being courted for engagements on Election Day.

In Maryland and Washington, voters will decide whether they are wedded to the marriage equality bills signed into law earlier this year.

In Maine, they’ll decide whether to re-legalize same-sex marriage in the state. A prior pro-gay marriage law was voided in an electoral annulment in 2009.

And in Minnesota, a state that’s had a long-standing love affair with a gay marriage ban, voters will decide whether to amend their constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The marriage questions are four of many ballot initiatives to be decided in the general election, which also will determine the next president and vice president, control of the U.S. House and Senate and numerous state and local races.

In 19 states, including Wisconsin, there are no statewide questions, but elsewhere voters will weigh in on capping property taxes, protecting hunting rights, halting executions, legalizing medical marijuana, reforming education and health care, protecting religious freedom, tightening gun control, banning genetically modified food and legalizing or banning same-sex marriage.

Maine

The proponents of Question 1 want to reinstate gay marriage in the state. The Legislature passed a marriage equality bill three years ago, but voters, in a fierce campaign at the ballot box, repealed it in 2009.

The November ballot question, which both proponents and opponents criticized for its simplicity, asks, “Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has not been vocal about his personal views on the initiative, but in May he criticized the teachers’ union for endorsing the question and soon after vetoed a teachers’ pay bill.

Recent polls suggest majority support – 57 percent or 58 percent – for the initiative.

“These are some of the strongest numbers in support of marriage that we have seen anywhere in the country,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “But supporters of the freedom to marry cannot grow complacent. There’s a lot of work still to do and we know that the attacks from opponents of marriage are coming.”

McTighe said Mainers United has talked with more than 100,000 citizens and raised at least $1 million.

Maryland

In the Old Line State, proponents want to enact a referendum that repeals the Civil Marriage Protection Act passed and signed earlier this year.

The Maryland Catholic Conference, representing the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, endorsed the repeal, stating, “While prominent politicians, deep-pocket donors and Hollywood stars try to influence Marylanders into believing that they aren’t ‘progressive’ enough, the average citizen of Maryland has enough common sense to know that marriage cannot be redefined; that a child comes from both a mother and a father; that marriage is the building block of society; and that it is not discriminatory to reserve marriage for one man and one woman.”

But polls have shown strong support for marriage equality during legislative debates on the bill, and there was a spike in support after Barack Obama endorsed same-sex marriage in May.

“Every weekend, we canvass – walking door to door to talk to our neighbors about the importance of defending dignity and equality at the ballot box in November,” said Marylanders for Marriage Equality field organizer John Michael Watkins.

In late June it was reported that the anti-gay campaign faced a debt of more than $800,000.

Washington

Evergreen State voters face Referendum 74, a veto campaign to repeal the hard-fought marriage equality law signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire, D, in February.

The ballot question asks voters to approve or reject the bill, which “allows same-sex couples to marry, applies marriage laws without regard to gender, and specifies that laws using gender-specific terms like husband and wife include same-sex spouses. After 2014, existing domestic partnerships are converted to marriages, except for seniors. It preserves the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize any marriage or accommodate wedding ceremonies. The bill does not affect licensing of religious organizations providing adoption, foster-care, or childplacement.”

Brian Brown of National Organization for Marriage has boasted that his side submitted twice the number of signatures needed to hold a referendum. “This,” he said, “shows the broad and deep support that traditional marriage enjoys, and sets the stage for a tremendous victory for marriage this November.”

But Washington United for Marriage recruited more than 1,000 volunteers and raised about $2 million by the end of June for its campaign. Corporate supporters of marriage equality in Washington include Starbucks, Microsoft, Google, Nike, Amazon.com and Alcoa.

Campaign manager Zach Silk said, “It’s clear that people in Washington do not want this law overturned and believe strongly that everyone should be able to marry the person they love. We are so grateful to those who understand that money in the door now enables us to build a winning campaign that protects marriage by approving Referendum 74 in November.”

Minnesota

In the North Star State, where same-sex marriage is not currently legal, Republican lawmakers and Christian right activists still want a constitutional amendment banning it. So, they are asking voters to say “yes” to the ballot question, “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?”

Opponents of the measure include former vice president Walter Mondale, General Mills, Thomson Reuters, Target, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and U.S. Sen. Al Franken. In mid-June, Minnesota United for All Families reported that it had raised more than $4.6 million from 19,000 individual donations.

“The conversation we are having across this state is working, and more and more Minnesotans are coming to the conclusion that limiting the freedom to marry for same-sex couples is not how we do things in Minnesota,” said campaign manager Richard Carlbom. “Minnesotans know that marriage is about love, commitment and responsibility, and no one would want to be told it’s illegal to marry the person you love.”

In other states

A ballot initiative to repeal a marriage ban will not reach voters this year in Nebraska. Campaigns to repeal antigay marriage laws also failed to make ballots in California and Ohio.

Earlier this year, in North Carolina, voters approved a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, and also domestic partnerships and civil unions. The vote was 61 percent to 39 percent.

Save the date

If Maryland voters approve gay marriage, same-sex couples can marry on Jan. 1, 2013.

If Washington voters approve gay marriage, same-sex couples can marry on Dec. 6.

If Maine voters approve gay marriage, same-sex couples can marry on a date still to be determined.

If Minnesota voters reject the constitutional amendment, same-sex couples still cannot marry in the state.

– L.N.

Porn at the polls

Los Angeles County voters decide on Nov. 6 whether to require condoms on the set of local porn productions.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and partners collected more than 360,000 signatures to place the question on the ballot.

If the measure passes, condoms would be required for any sex acts in locally produced adult films. The measure also would require producers to display a public health permit obtained from the county that details the condom requirement. Opponents fear that the industry will move underground, ironically lessening oversight.

City, state and federal regulations already exist for the adult film industry, which has opposed condom use with the basic argument that viewers don’t want to see them.

The industry largely is based in Los Angeles County in the San Fernando Valley. – L.N.

Review sought of NOM’s gift from Romney PAC

Gay presidential candidate Fred Karger has filed a complaint seeking a review of how a $10,000 donation from a Mitt Romney PAC was missing from a National Organization for Marriage report.

Earlier this spring, the Human Rights Campaign reported that Romney donated to the anti-gay NOM through his PAC. The contribution was listed in a Schedule of Contributors form from 2008, which showed Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC gave $10,000 to the anti-gay cause.

HRC noted that Free and Strong America PAC filings with the Federal Election Commission for the period did not show a contribution to NOM, but a contribution was disclosed by an Alabama-based Free and Strong America.

The donation was not recorded on NOM’s filing with the California Secretary of State.

At the time, NOM was heavily involved in campaigning for the passage of Proposition 8 in California, an effort that also had substantial backing from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

HRC received the documents from what was described as a whistleblower early on March 30.

Karger has now filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

“Mitt Romney and NOM appear to have gone to a lot of trouble to hide his contribution,” Karger said in a statement. “I am sure that Romney’s $10K was never meant to never see the light of day.”

Karger’s complaint states:

“Exhibit 1 is a copy of the 2008 Federal Tax Return (Form 990) of the National Organization for Marriage. It shows a $10,000 contribution received from Governor Romney’s Alabama PAC “Free and Strong America.”  That $10,000 was not reported on NOM’s filing with the California Secretary of State.

“Exhibit 2 is page 3 of Governor Romney’s 2008 filing of his Alabama Free and Strong America PAC, as required by Alabama law.  It shows a $10,000 contribution to the National Organization for Marriage on October 14, 2008, less than three weeks before the 2008 election.

“NOM did not report that contribution on any of its filings with the California Secretary of State in 2008 or 2009. Contributions larger and smaller received by NOM earlier and later in October 2008 appear to all be reported, but the Romney PAC contribution was not.  There is also no record of NOM filing the mandatory 90-day election cycle report triggered by Governor Romney’s PAC contribution.

“Exhibit 3 is the link to NOM’s 2008 report with the California Secretary of State that shows that the National Organization for Marriage did not report the Romney PAC contribution.

“It appears that the National Organization for Marriage attempted to hide the Romney PAC contribution because of the significant attention that it would have received.”

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