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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 24, 2004

Issue 3 foes are still
hiding their backers

Same group, same story with Issue 1;
opponents say this breaks election law

Columbus--The anti-gay group behind campaigns to pass an Ohio marriage ban amendment and defeat the repeal of Cincinnati�s Article 12 is still concealing the sources of the money spent on both campaigns.

The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, the political action committee that passed Issue 1, and Equal Rights No Special Rights, the PAC that tried to defeat Issue 3, filed campaign finance reports on December 10.

The reports, filed with the Ohio Secretary of State for the Issue 1 campaign and with the Hamilton County Board of Elections for Issue 3, show tens of thousands of dollars coming from non-profit groups which do not identify the source of the money.

Chief among these is a political offshoot of Citizens for Community Values, the suburban Cincinnati group whose president, anti-gay crusader Phil Burress of West Chester, founded both of the campaign PACs.

CCV vice president David Miller is the treasurer of both PACs, which both list CCV�s Sharonville office as their address.

Individuals gave only $370

ERNSR reported spending $189,422 during the period between October 14 and December 3, and receiving in-kind support valued at $934,550.

The total cost of the campaign against Issue 3 was over $1.25 million, setting the record for the most expensive city-wide campaign in Cincinnati�s history.

Yet only $370 of it came from individuals: $50 from Richard Dostal of Cincinnati, $250 from Michael Edwards of Cincinnati, and $50 from John Marcus Jobe of Oxford. The only other individual contributor was Burress, who gave $20 disclosed on an earlier report.

The rest of ERNSR�s money this period came in large installments from other non-profit groups, some in Ohio, others not.

Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado gave $90,000, which was spent on newspaper advertising. This money is listed as in-kind support and tied to a separately filed report.

Focus on the Family is the largest, wealthiest anti-gay organization in the world, with annual revenue over $127 million. CCV is its Ohio affiliate.

Six checks totaling $173,000 were passed to ERNSR by Citizens for Community Values Action, a nonprofit corporation chartered last May that is allowed to engage in political activity. Burress is its only director and his attorney David Langdon is its statutory agent.

CCV Action also gave ERNSR $157,476 in-kind, which is listed as covering expenses including advertising, office staff, and automated phone calls to voters.

In addition to the funds it gave to ERNSR, CCV Action was the largest contributor to the Issue 1 statewide campaign.

The sources of its money are not known.

Family Research Council: $777,000

The largest contributor to ERNSR, however, was a $777,000 in-kind contribution from a group called Family Research Council Action in Washington, D.C.

FRC Action, which was formerly known as American Renewal, is a non-profit lobbying organization associated with the rabidly anti-gay Family Research Council founded by Gary Bauer.

The sources of its money are also unknown, though its contribution paid for advertising.

The tax-exempt, non-profit CCV contributed $74 in-kind, which paid for lunch and delivering signs.

ERNSR spent most of the money it got from CCV Action on routine campaign expenses including advertising, polling, postage, phone expenses, printing, food and campaign workers.

ERNSR paid $39,000 for 300 poll workers on election day and $41,272 to individuals as consulting fees. Most of the consultants are Cincinnati area ministers.

Dr. Alveda C. King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who is the lone anti-gay voice in the King family, was paid $1,000 to appear at a rally.

The campaign filed suit against the city of Cincinnati over ballot language, and had three attorneys appear on their behalf. But no item in the report accounts for their legal fees or litigation costs.

In contrast, Citizens to Restore Fairness, the campaign that passed Issue 3, raised $107,879 during the same period. This came from several corporations and thousands of individual contributors. Much of it was collected at fundraising house parties and disclosed on the campaign finance reports according to law.

$1.6 million from CCV Action to Issue 1

CCV Action was also the largest single contributor to Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, the PAC which passed state Issue 1.

It contributed $667,000 in cash to the campaign and $499,941 in-kind this period. CCV Action also paid the $725,678 for the paid petition signature gatherers over the summer.

OCPM listed 212 individual contributors on this report, most of which made contributions of $50 or less.

Rebecca Aicholtz of Terrace Park was the top contributor at $2,000. Next was Robert Kohlhepp of Cincinnati who contributed $1,000.

Burress was the sole individual contributor to the campaign on its earlier report, with a $50 contribution.

Focus on the Family contributed $1,101 in-kind for radio advertising. CCV contributed $98 in-kind for mail and travel expenses.

OCPM spent $671,791 which included $39,778 to print church bulletin inserts and $2,995 to ship them to churches across the state.

TV advertising cost $600,000 and $10,562 was spent on yard signs.

Many suits, but no legal fees

Despite legal challenges to the petitions in the majority of Ohio counties, and legal action in all levels of Ohio courts plus the Ohio Elections Commission and the Ohio Supreme Court, OCPM lists no legal expenses and no attorney fees paid although they had lawyers in all of these cases.

In contrast, the pro-gay Ohioans Protecting the Constitution had more than 600 individual and corporate contributors during the same period, and in-kind support totaling only $1,364. It paid $21,734 for similar legal services.

Although David Miller is the treasurer of both campaigns with the responsibility of filing true and accurate reports, he deferred all questions on them to Burress, who was vacationing and did not reply.

However, Burress has defended the legality of his enterprises� accounting and reporting.

On the October reports which show the same patterns, Burress told the Cincinnati Enquirer there is nothing sinister about the campaign financing or the motives of the people behind it.

�That accusation can be made all day long. It�s not dealing with the issue as far as I�m concerned,� he added.

Election complaint filed

Issue 1 opponents disagree. They have filed a complaint against Burress, Miller, OCPM, CCV and CCV Action with the Ohio Elections Commission. They say that CCV Action, in particular, has been acting as a proxy for the campaign committee and must disclose its contributors under campaign law.

That action, filed October 25 by Paul Fogarty of Columbus, will be heard by the commission January 6.

Fogarty is represented by Columbus attorney Rick Brunner. Burress and the organizations are represented by Langdon.

According to commission director Phil Richter, the commission can fine Burress and the organizations up to $5,000 if they find a serious offense was committed.

According to its co-chair Gary Wright, CRF is also considering legal action.




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