If you harken back to our last couple of reports on NOM, you might recall that they’re basically grasping at straws at this point. Their recently-revealed 2010 tax forms haven’t done much to help the organization’s credibility. Now discrepancies in their financial reports are making NOM look less like a bunch of hateful, bumbling idiots and a little more like a couple of very wealthy haters using bumbling idiots as a mouthpiece.
In interviews with various media outlets, Maggie Gallagher states that NOM raised and spent $13 million in 2010. According to their records, they’re actually operating on a $1.1 million dollar loss having only raised $9.6 million dollars. Their budget, as reported to the IRS, designates $3 million for advertising, $1.2 million on their 17 employee salaries, $600,000 on grants, and $4 million–the largest amount–on “other” unnamed expenses.
While NOM prides itself on its grassroots efforts, their list of donors tells a different story. Over two thirds of their 2010 budget–more than $6 million–came from two anonymous individuals. Though NOM’s overall budget has grown over the past 2 years, small “grassroots” contributions have decreased. Single donations of less than $5,000 have fallen from $1,760,000 (or 22 percent of total) revenue in 2009 to $800,000 (8 percent) in 2010.
Looking at their expenses, it becomes clear nearly all of NOM’s budget is coming from only 5 or 6 donors. Who are the anonymous donors and what is all that money being spent on? The real mystery is what all the secrecy is about. Are donors just afraid of being outed as homophobes or is there something more sinister going on? Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry points out that “There certainly are people opposed to the freedom to marry [for gay and lesbian couples], but they are not the people that support NOM.” He believes that “NOM is supported by a small group of secret donors; we’ve seen no evidence o the contrary. And they are a threat. Not so much NOM, but the anti-gay founders behind NOM. Money still is power.” Specifically, money is power in terms of government — lots of important legislative decisions are affected by lobbyists’ money, and as long as we don’t know who these donors are, we also don’t know what else they might be involved in, or who else they might be talking to.
Inconsistencies in NOM’s reporting has prompted investigations from Fred Karger (who you might remember as being amazing), who believes that the Mormon church created NOM as a cover for their work. The HRC has created an entire project, NOM Exposed, to track fundraising and spending. Their muckraking might help discover what’s really going on, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of things we could do if we didn’t have to spend our resources on organizations like NOM — maybe we would have more time to care for and enjoy our families if we didn’t have to spend so much time defending them.