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Anti-gay groups spent $948,000 in Iowa to oust judges
Five out-of-state organizations spent $948,355 in Iowa over the course of roughly two months on the successful campaign to oust three state Supreme Court justices over a 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, according to disclosure documents filed with the state.
A group campaigning in support of the three judges, The Fair Courts for Us Committee, spent $366,000 over the same time period almost entirely on radio ads and pro-retention mailers.
Leading the way in anti-judge spending was the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage, which spent $635,627 in Iowa. The majority of the funds — more than $435,000 — went to two statewide TV ads aimed at convincing Iowans to vote “no” on retention. The ads were also paid for with a $100,000 contribution from Campaign for Working Families PAC, an organization founded by former presidential hopeful Gary Bauer.
The entire campaign was led by the Mississippi-based American Family Association, which wholly subsidized the local anti-retention effort known as Iowa for Freedom. The AFA spent nearly $140,000 in Iowa. The largest expense was $56,000 to the Texas-based consulting firm Murphy Turner & Associates LLC. The firm was founded by a former aide to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas).
The next highest expenses for the American Family Association were a $24,858 payment to Shaw Research and $15,000 to Iowa for Freedom campaign manager Chuck Laudner for three months of salary. Bob Vander Plaats, who led the effort, only shows up in the disclosure reports for a little more than $3,000 in travel reimbursement. There is no salary listed.
The Washington, D.C.,-based Family Research Council spent $55,996 in Iowa. Around $20,000 went to a radio ad campaign, with the rest going to its “Judge Bus” tour around the state, the culmination of the anti-retention campaign. National Organization for Marriage also contributed to the 20-city tour, which ultimately cost $45,286.
Lastly, the Washington, D.C.,-based Citizens United Political Victory Fund spent nearly $18,000 on an anti-retention radio ad featuring former Arkansas governor and possible 2012 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
While these five organizations spent money in Iowa directly for the retention effort, other groups were also active in the campaign to oust the judges. For example, the Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition provided voter guides to churches around the state laying out the argument against retention. The Faith & Freedom Coalition was founded by Ralph Reed, who formerly led the Christian Coalition.
Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund and one of its affiliates, the Texas-based Liberty Institute, offered free legal representation to any church who openly violated federal tax law by advocating for the removal of the judges from the pulpit. Federal tax law forbids 501(c)3 organizations, including churches, from intervening in elections in support of or opposition to any candidate.