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Despite objection, marriage amendment donor can remain anonymous

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota campaigns Updated: September 13, 2012 - 4:33 PM

Despite an objection, John Doe will remain an unknown.

Last month, the Minnesota campaign finance board decided that an employee of the Catholic Church or its affiliates could remain anonymous despite his donation to the campaign to defeat the marriage amendment.

The man, known only as John Doe, convinced campaign regulators that his job would be in jeopardy if his name were disclosed. The board agreed and allowed him to donate anonymously.

On Thursday, Teresa Graham, a citizen who said she had no position on the amendment, told the board  it had erred in its decision making.

Graham gave the board a list of 36 employees at Catholic organizations, including teachers at Catholic schools, the Catholic Diocese of Duluth and Catholic Charities, who had publicly contributed to the cause without apparent fear of reprisals.

"I think everybody should be treated the same," said Graham.

Board member Andy Lugar said that is already happening.

"Whenever anybody asks us to any anything from any persuasion or any view point, we treat them all the same," Lugar said.

Gary Goldsmith, the board's executive director, said “the employment relationship between an individual and an employer is extremely unique.”

In a staff memo, he said that only six of the 36 were in a situation similar to Doe's but those donors’ willingness to be known did not negate Doe’s reasons to remain unknown.

"Mr. Doe's affidavit was detailed, concise and explicit and was unequivocal in that he believed he would be exposed to loss of employment," Goldsmith said.

The board agreed. On Thursday re-affirmed it's decision to allow Doe's name not to be disclosed.

That is unlikely to be the last time the issue of donor anonymity comes up.

Goldsmith also said that he had received a call from someone related to Minnesota for Marriage, which supports the marriage amendment, who said a potential donor also feared donating because his or her employment might be threatened as a result.

That request for anonymity has yet to be filed and may not materialize, Goldsmith said.

Graham and board staff also indicated that the matter of John Doe may end up being brought to the Office of Administrative Hearings for further view.

 

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