Last Tuesday, September 4, Ellen Lowe—a longtime watchdog of Oregon's initiative process—filed a complaint with John Lindback, Oregon's Director of Elections, accusing two anti-gay groups of violating state election and tax laws.
The groups, Defense of Marriage and Family Again! as well as Concerned Oregonians, "have misrepresented their status as a political committee," according to the complaint. Both groups have asked donors for money, and promised donors they could file for Oregon's $50 political tax credit in return. The problem, according to the complaint, is that neither group has filed as a political action committee (PAC)—so donations don't qualify for the tax credit, despite what both groups have told their supporters.
"As a person of modest income, I very much value the political tax credit," Lowe explains. "I see what they're doing as really endangering the credit." Offering it "in a fraudulent way," Lowe explains, could jeopardize the program. The secretary of state's office is currently investigating the complaint.
Defense of Marriage and Family Again!—sponsors of the referenda petitions that would put two new gay rights laws to a public vote—is registered as a chief petitioner committee with the Oregon Secretary of State. The group has not filed as a PAC.
Concerned Oregonians—a coalition of evangelical groups like Restore America—has registered with the secretary of state with the business name "Concerned Oregonians PAC," but hasn't filed as a political action committee. Concerned Oregonians has solicited donations via email, and urged donors to utilize the tax credit: "If you do not use this tax credit, you will lose it to the state, for whatever purpose they choose, including tax-payer-funded abortions. Why not apply those dollars to stopping these bills?" the group wrote to supporters in May.
The complaint clearly unnerved Restore America's David Crowe. He sent out a missive via email on September 11 that dubbed the complaint "Oregon's Own 9/11." In it, Crowe called the complaint's allegations "deceitful and erroneous."
Later that day, Restore America issued a press release saying the group was "preparing a detailed reply to the complaint," and that the allegations are untrue.