The group that successfully pushed to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota raised more than $2 million for its Capitol lobbying effort.
The money went to organize people to contact their legislators and about $500,000 went for advertising, Minnesotans United said.
Campaign manager Richard Carlbom said the group's fund-raising success came from the fact that “everyday Minnesotans wanted to secure the freedom to marry.”
The group’s effort was among the most intense of the legislative session, which concluded Monday. It is also likely to be one of the most well-funded lobbying efforts at the Capitol this year.
In January, some DFL legislative leaders wanted to wait until next year to push for same-sex marriage. But the relentless effort by Minnesotans United culminated in two dramatic floor votes to pass the proposal. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signed the measure last week in a historic outdoor bill signing.
The group that tried to block same-sex marriage, Minnesota for Marriage, declined to release its fund-raising numbers.
Minnesota for Marriage pushed for a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage, which voters rejected in November. The effort by Minnesotans United to legalize same-sex marriage spawned out of the group's victory defeating the amendment.
The National Organization for Marriage, a main backer of the Minnesota effort to block same-sex marriage, simply did not have the money to spend in Minnesota this year, an official said. NOM had been fighting similar marriage–related battles in several other states.
“There wasn’t the money. There weren’t the resources,” said Frank Schubert, national political director for NOM. “The cupboards were bare, or more than bare.”
Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Minnesota Aug. 1.
Minnesotans United has now created a political-action group to raise money to support candidates who voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Minnesota Supreme Court says that lawmakers' votes to legalize same sex marriage do not provide cause for recall elections.
Crow Wing County Republican Doug Kern, of rural Brainerd, filed petitions to recall DFL Reps. Joe Radinovich and John Ward based on their support for legalization of same-sex marriage.
"Constituent disagreement with how their elected representative exercised discretion, through public statements made or votes taken, does not equate to malfeasance by the representative," the court said in an order dismissing the recall petition against Radinovich earlier this week. The court issued a similar order dismissing the petition against Ward.
State law sets the recall bar very high for public officials, only allowing recall elections to go forward based on "serious malfeasance or nonfeasance" in performance of public duties.
The dismissal of the recall effort does not end the possible consequences for lawmakers' votes on the marriage issue.
Both the Baxter area Ward represents and the Crosby area Radinovich represents favored the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage last year. If they run for re-election in 2014, voters may express their disappointment at the polls.
Lawmakers are poised to grant next year's Minnesota candidates permission to raise and spend more campaign cash, to allow them to compete with massive spending from outside groups.
The new limits awaiting House and Senate floor votes but approved by a joint legislative committee, double the amount an individual can give to candidates for most campaigns and dramatically increases the amount of money candidates could spend.
Candidates for governor, for instance, will be able to spend $5 million during an election cycle whereas previously they could spend just $2.7 million, if they agreed to spending limit. Legislative candidates would also see the amount they are permitted to spend double.
Unlike some versions of the measure, the final agreement does not put in place new regulations over so called "electioneering communications," which are messages that outside groups send out near an election to praise or criticize a candidate but don't specifically include an entreaty to vote for or against that candidate.
The measure also creates a new exception to the ban on lawmakers receiving gifts. Now, if a group invites the entire Legislature to an event, lawmakers can eat and drink on that group's dime without worrying they are receiving a prohibited gift.