Prop. 8 foes failed to report all donations before election

Published: Thursday, Sep. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4A

Opponents of a successful 2008 ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage failed to provide timely disclosure of contributions or donor details for nearly $900,000 in campaign funds, according to California's political watchdog agency.

The No on Proposition 8 group has agreed to pay a $42,500 fine as part of a settlement to be considered next Thursday by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The state's action against No on 8 comes less than three weeks after the opposing side in the 2008 ballot fight, Yes on 8, received a $49,000 fine for failing to report about $1.17 million in contributions before the legal deadline.

Gary Winuk, FPPC chief enforcement officer, declined to comment Wednesday.

Proposition 8 called for prohibiting same-sex marriage by stating that "only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California." It was approved by 52 percent of voters statewide but remains under legal challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The FPPC accuses No on 8 of violating several different kinds of disclosure requirements, including failure to report some donations of $1,000 or more within 24 hours as the election neared.

Other allegations involve failing to meet a 10-day deadline for disclosing some contributions of $5,000 or more; failing to make timely online disclosure of some donations; and failing to disclose the occupation and employer of 791 donors.

The violations involve only about 2 percent of the $43.3 million received by No on 8, records show.

Attorney Cary Davidson, a spokesman for No on 8, said that there was no intent to withhold information from voters.

The sheer volume of campaign donations, the limitations of computer software, and tight disclosure turnaround times – within 24 hours as balloting neared – created compliance problems, Davidson said.

California's Political Reform Act was written in 1974, and much has changed in politics since then – including the number of contributions and how they can be submitted online, Davidson said.

"With virtually every grass-roots campaign today, you're going to get some kind of fine," he said.

Davidson said the FPPC allegations do not suggest willful wrongdoing and that all donations eventually were reported.

"There are no violations of inappropriate use of funds or other improprieties, he said.

Officials for Yes on 8 declined to comment.

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