The National Organization for Marriage is not happy that the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board voted to investigate the anti-gay group’s campaigns against the Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality. NOM has already derided the investigation as a “witch hunt,” but its tactics have sunk lower this week. Rather than address the facts of the matter, NOM president Brian Brown has now decided to attack the chair of that board, Megan Tooker, claiming that she is biased and unprofessional:
BROWN: The people of Iowa are entitled to the highest standards of ethical conduct and independence from the state’s top ethics officer, but Megan Tooker has shown herself to be biased and incredibly unprofessional in her handling of the complaint against NOM. Ms. Tooker worked for one of the justices we helped remove from office in 2010 and which is the subject of the complaint she is evaluating. At a minimum this presents the appearance of a conflict of interest. Furthermore, her comments to the media reveal deep-seated animosity toward our position and are grossly inaccurate, prejudicial and inappropriate. We demand that she be removed from having any role in evaluating the complaint filed against us.
By blatantly misrepresenting our position in the media, Ms. Tooker has in effect convicted us in absentia, without conducting any investigation or receiving any evidence. She’s prejudiced our case by lying to the media about our position on critical matters, and then declaring us to be ‘absolutely wrong’ and ‘absolutely false’ in our defense of the complaint. Clearly, this is not the kind of ethical behavior one would expect from the state’s top ethics officer, someone charged with conducting a fair and impartial investigation into the facts, and then carefully applying the facts to the law. Rather, it shows the deep bias she holds toward us for having helped unseat her former employer.
NOM is distorting history fairly significantly with these ad hominem attacks. When the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, it did so unanimously. Thus, anybody who worked for any of the Justices would have this supposed bias, whether it was one of the four NOM has since targeted in retention votes or not.
Furthermore, Tooker has no motivation to bias the case, as her board also voted unanimously to proceed with the investigation. Besides, her comments to the media were in direct response to a statement issued by NOM’s lawyers, which claimed that donor disclosure is not required if funds are raised through phone calls and emails. When Tooker explained, “that’s absolutely false,” she was simply stating a fact; it’s her job to know what needs to be disclosed and what doesn’t. If that’s not NOM’s argument, then Brown may not even have to worry, but there’s nothing unethical or “unprofessional” about Tooker’s remarks one way or another.
At an event in Iowa this weekend, Brown apparently confronted activist Fred Karger, who filed the complaint against NOM’s campaign efforts. NOM has also engaged in ad hominem attacks against him. Karger told On Top magazine that Brown “just began to lash out at me” and was “clearly bothered.” Indeed, NOM has been fighting to hide the source of its funding in every state it has campaigned, so Brown may well have reason to be concerned that the ruse could soon come unraveled.