Campaign Finance Board stands by “John Doe decision”

The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board is standing by its decision to grant anonymity to a person who made a donation to a group working to defeat a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

The board heard a complaint on the ruling today from Teresa Graham, who argued that there isn’t clear and convincing evidence that the donor would lose his job with the Catholic Church if his name was made public. The board ruled the donor can stay anonymous but Graham argued the law should be the same for everyone. She said more than 30 other people associated with the Catholic Church contributed to groups on both sides of the ballot initiative and are identified in campaign finance reports.

“I think everybody should be treated the same,” Graham told the board. “If this was a political action group that was supporting the amendment and someone came forward from the Unitarian Universalist Church, who has been very public in supporting it, and said they were concerned about losing their job, I’m not sure the outcome would be the same.”

Several board members objected to Graham’s comments and said they examine every issue on its merits. It’s likely that Graham’s complaint will be heard by the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, said individuals are entitled to privacy in some instances. He called the exception unique.

“This isn’t going to be a slippery slope. We have one person in a unique position with a unique employer that feels a threat to their employment. We haven’t seen others so I don’t think there is a risk of this ballooning into many requests.”

But Goldsmith said that the group working to pass the amendment has also inquired as to whether a possible donor could remain anonymous.

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