The National Organization for Marriage is no stranger to smear campaigns and scare tactics, but in a flier they and distributed in a State Senate primary campaign earlier this summer, they tiptoed very close to the sometimes-blurry limits of legality.
Last week, State Senator Paul Koering (R-Brainerd) lost his primary bid against former State Representative Paul Gazelka in a tight race where voters may have been swayed by a flier mailed to local voters by NOM and the Minnesota Family Council. The fliers cited Koering’s dinner date with porn actor and his alleged support for marriage equality in accusing him of being a “social liberal and a fiscal liberal.”
According to Mike Dean, head of the non-partisan, non-profit election watchdog Common Cause Minnesota, that’s not necessarily illegal. What could be an issue, he told TheColu.mn, is a statement on one of the two fliers: “What kind of Senator do we want?”
The reverse side of each flier (Photo: James Sanna)
Because the National Organization for Marriage is not a registered lobbyist in Minnesota, Dean said, they are not allowed to directly advocate for or against candidates in state or local elections. They closest they can come is “public education,” where they publish and disseminate information a particular issue, but do not endorse a candidate or encourage voters to cast their votes for a candidate.