The scenario that gay-rights advocates had feared may be coming true.
Vote Reject R-71, a political action committee, registered with the state's Public Disclosure Commission yesterday to campaign against Referendum 71, thereby attempting to repeal the state's domestic-partnership law. (Read the filing paperwork here: .pdf.)
Dave Mortenson, a conservative campaign consultant who filed the PAC, says, "A bunch of individuals contacted me to see if we could raise some money really quick." He says, "I am not going to share who I’ve been talking to, but if we do get the money, we will report it." Are these religious groups, corporations, wealthy donors? "We are working them all," says Mortenson.
October 12 is the deadline for donations over $5000, according to state campaign rules.
Can the group raise a large sum of money before Tuesday? "I’m pretty optimistic, let me put it that way," says Mortensen, who has worked on Republican legislative campaigns since the 1980s.
The group running the primary campaign to reject R-71, Protect Marriage Washington, has raised $60,114. The campaign working to approve R-71, Washington Families Standing Together (WAFST), has raised $779,104. And another group in favor of approving the measure, Human Rights Campaign Approve Referendum 71, has raised $72,805.
Filing a new PAC is a "giant red flag" that anti-gay forces are about to dump loads of cash into the anti-gay Reject R-71 campaign, says WAFST campaign manager Josh Friedes. Much of the money for California's anti-gay Prop 8 came in the final weeks before the election.
"The filing of a PAC a few days before the cutoff suggests that this is a strategy to significantly fund an anti-gay campaign but have it cloaked in secrecy until such a time that that it is difficult to respond because of the state’s campaign finance laws," says Friedes.
"We won't know until how much money is dumped in until after the cut-off, so it will be hard to make it up in smaller contributions," Friedes says. "Anybody who can donate over $5,000 should do so now."