Main | Friday, January 30, 2009

Court: Prop 8 Donor List To Remain Public

A federal judge has ruled that donors to Proposition 8 will continue to have their names made public.

"If there ever needs to be sunshine on a particular issue, it's a ballot measure," U.S. District Judge Morrison England said after a one-hour hearing in his Sacramento courtroom. A lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign said it would ask an appeals court to modify or overturn the law, which requires disclosure of all contributors of $100 or more. The federal lawsuit, unrelated to the validity of Prop. 8, was filed Jan. 8 by the ballot measure's sponsoring committee, Protect Marriage. The suit said Internet disclosure of donors' names and other identifying information in state-mandated reports has led to consumer boycotts, picketing and even death threats.

By requiring disclosure, "the government is getting in the middle (of the issue) and saying, 'Here are the people to go after,' " Richard Coleson, a lawyer for the committee, told England. He argued that the $100 disclosure requirement - adopted by California voters in 1974 - should be struck down, modified to raise the dollar limits, or at least not applied to Prop. 8's contributors. As a first step, Coleson said, the campaign should be exempted from the state's post-election contribution report, due next Monday. Otherwise, he said, in future initiative campaigns "you will have donations dry up, and one side will be able to overcome another by intimidation and not be persuasion."

The supporters of Prop 8 are particularly upset by, a Google Maps mash-up with the official public records which identify individual donors by street location.

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