Pingree’s No on 1 role challenged

Posted Oct. 26, 2009, at 10:28 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The organization working to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law accused the opposition and House Speaker Hannah Pingree on Monday of failing to fully disclose her role in the campaign to defeat Question 1.

That prompted an angry response from No on 1 leaders, who called it ironic that the organization bankrolling most of the anti-gay marriage campaign was in federal court Monday fighting Maine’s campaign contribution disclosure law.

The latest spat centers on $5,175.60 that Pingree received on Oct. 7 for “consulting services” she supplied to the No on 1-Protect Maine Equality campaign. The item was listed on No on 1’s latest campaign finance report.

Pingree, a professional fundraising consultant, said she prepared lists of potential donors and helped with other fundraising.

As a lawmaker, Pingree has been a vocal supporter of Maine’s same-sex marriage law, both during the legislative debate and at recent events.

In a memo to the media, Scott Fish with Stand for Marriage Maine pointed to an Oct. 19 speech by Pingree and suggested that she “is getting paid to speak for the No on 1 campaign.”

While not illegal, Pingree’s paid work for the campaign should have been disclosed at the event, Fish said.

But Pingree and No on 1 campaign manager Jesse Connolly said the two things are entirely separate. Pingree was paid for offering professional fundraising services in August and September, not for the Oct. 19 speech.

“Clearly, my work for the campaign was disclosed to the public,” Pingree said, referring to the Oct. 23 campaign finance report.

Connolly, meanwhile, called Fish’s statement a “baseless attack” aimed at a campaign that he said “has been completely transparent about our fundraising and our expenditures.”

The accusation came on the same day that the National Organization for Marriage went to federal court in Portland to challenge the constitutionality of a state law that could require NOM to disclose the identity of donors.

NOM, which is based in Washington, D.C., has supplied $1.6 million of the $2.6 million raised by Stand for Marriage Maine as of last week. Critics contend the organization has solicited contributions for the Maine campaign and then made large block donations to Stand for Marriage Maine in order to hide donors’ identities.

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