Anti-gay marriage donors made public

February 2, 2009 11:15:03 PM PST
The Mormon Church has been a target of advocates who accuse the church of being the driving force behind Proposition 8 - the measure passed last November banning same-sex marriage.

Church spokesman Don Eaton told ABC7 back in November that, "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints put zero into this."

But Monday, Eaton amended his previous comments.

"The value of the church's in kind donation is less than one-half of 1 percent of the total funds spent on the Proposition 8 campaign, which is about $40 million," Eaton said.

The church's filing with the secretary of state reported it had spent nearly $190,000 on "non-monetary contributions."

Click here to see the list of "Yes on 8" contributors.

Click here to read the church's filing with the Secretary of State.

Click here to see all contributors for both "Yes" and "No" on Prop 8.

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission accusing the church of failure to report its Prop 8 support. He said Monday's filing sheds light on their involvement, but does not tell the whole story.

"It only reports money spent in October and very, very little in September, $1,000, so what were they doing in August and September and even back in July," Karger said.

The church was required to disclose its contributions by the end of January.

"No on 8" campaign leaders say voters really deserved to know who was backing Prop 8 before they voted.

"if the voters knew they had actually spent this money it might have made them pause and think and that's why we have campaign finance laws," Geoff Kors said.

The "Yes on 8" campaign unsuccessfully tried to convince a federal judge to block the release of the names of 1,600 financial contributors, arguing that groups like Californians Against Hate posted donor information on the Web, leading to reports of death threats, boycotts of businesses and harassment.

But political science experts say more public disclosure is unlikely to have a chilling effect on future political donations.

"I think at the end of the day, the person will think twice before they write the check; but if they feel strongly about something, they will write the check," University of San Francisco political science professor Patrick Murphy said.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel.