California official to investigate Mormon aid for Proposition 8

California official to investigate Mormon aid for Proposition 8The New York Times reported that California's Fair Political Practices Commission officials will investigate a complaint alleging that the Mormon Church vastly underreported its efforts to help pass the ballot measure, Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. Roman Porter, the executive director of the commission - which oversees California campaign finance laws - signed off on the investigation after reviewing a sworn complaint filed on November 13.

According to the accusations, the church overlooked the California state law requiring the disclosure of money or services provided to influence an election. It neglected to report a battery of non-monetary contributions - including phone banks, a Web site and commercials - on behalf of the ballot measure.

Fred Karger, founder of the group Californians Against Hate, filed the complaint asserting that the church's reported contributions - about $5,000, according to state election filings - vastly underestimated its actual efforts in passing Proposition 8, which amended the state's Constitution to recognize only male-female marriage. Karger said he respected the right of Mormons to vote in line with their religious beliefs, but added: "If they're going to play politics, then they need to play by the rules."

The complaint also touches on a five-state simulcast from church leaders to Mormon congregations, and the Mormon Church's 'official' web site - preservingmarriage. org - that featured a series of videos advocating passage of the ballot measure.

Painting a sweeping picture of the involvement by the church leadership, Karger's complaint raises questions about who paid for out-of-state phone banks and grass-roots rallies in California before the November 4 vote. The complaint reads: "Who paid for the buses, travel costs, meals and other expenses of all the Mormon participants? No contributions were reported."