Officials fight Prop. 8 donors

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In the latest skirmish over Proposition 8, the state’s ethics agency and Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown filed briefs in federal court this week challenging an attempt to change campaign finance disclosure laws.

Supporters of the November ballot measure that banned gay marriage went to court earlier this month seeking to throw out a decades-old state law that requires the names and personal information of campaign contributors be made public.

Proposition 8 supporters say they have been harassed after opponents publicized their donations, including the use of interactive online maps showing where they live. Some people say they have received death threats and had their homes vandalized.


The harassment did not end with the election and in fact grew more heated after Nov. 4, measure supporters said.

In the days after the measure, gay rights activists have published the names of donors and targeted some for boycotts.

“We have nothing to hide here,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Proposition 8. “We are really trying to protect the privacy of people.”

But in their court briefs this week, Brown and the state Fair Political Practices Commission said donors’ information should remain public.

“Political democracy demands open debate, including prompt disclosure of the identities of campaign donors,” Brown said.

Ethics commission officials argued that information on who contributes to ballot measure campaigns is necessary to prevent money laundering and other illegal activity.


Proponents “are out to destroy campaign finance disclosure by a death of a thousand cuts; I don’t intend to let that happen on my watch,” commission chief Ross Johnson said.

The law has withstood several previous legal challenges.

Most campaign donors have already had their information made public, but supporters are asking a judge to stay publication of the names and personal information of donors who gave $100 to $999 in the two weeks before the election.

Names of donors who gave $1,000 are made public within 24 hours and donors who give less than $100 can retain their privacy.

The filing date for the last round of contributions is Jan. 31, but because that date is a Saturday, the information will be due Feb. 2 unless a judge issues a stay next week.

Also this week, both sides in the battle over Proposition 8 finished filing briefs to the California Supreme Court on a separate legal challenge to the measure.