Six years after it funded a successful campaign to overturn Maine’s new same-sex marriage law, the National Organization for Marriage has been forced to reveal its donors.

Now we know what it was hiding.

It was not the identity of the donors — but the number of them. Of the $3 million spent by the anti-marriage equality campaign, just seven people contributed more than $2 million of it; one contributor wrote checks worth $1.25 million all on his own.

He was Sean Fieler, a hedge fund manager from New Jersey, who is a generous donor to right-wing causes, but someone with no demonstrated interest in the Maine families whose lives were cruelly disrupted by the 2009 people’s veto.

Maine voters established marriage rights in Maine once and for all in 2012, and the U.S. Supreme Court has found state bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. But before we declare the issue resolved, it’s worth taking a good look at these disclosures. The 2009 campaign is a glaring example of how out-of-state money can distort the outcome of an election, and why transparency matters.

The official campaign organization Stand for Marriage Maine was portrayed as a grassroots movement headed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and a network of small churches around the state. In reality, most of the work was done by the National Organization for Marriage, over the heads of the Maine campaign leaders.

According to a report by the state ethics commission, NOM not only raised the money, it spent it. A NOM-affiliated political consultant ran the campaign, produced the television advertisements and bought time on the networks. In a very real way, the National Organization for Marriage was the campaign.

But it kept that a secret. Local people were the public face of Stand for Marriage Maine. NOM acted as an illegal pass-through for national money to influence a Maine election without meeting the usual disclosure requirements.

It’s impossible to know how compliance with the law would have affected the outcome of the race. The question was decided by more than 30,000 votes, and no one can say that disclosure would have changed that.

But it may have made some people think twice about supporting an effort funded almost entirely by wealthy financiers with no other interest in Maine than their ability to advance their national political agenda on the cheap.

These were right-wing political operatives, but this is an issue that goes across the political spectrum. Maine is seen as a bargain nationally, and groups and individuals with deep pockets see that they can make a difference here without spending too much.

Mainers should know who wants to influence their elections, and we have a right to ask why these groups and individuals are so eager to help us. The National Organization for Marriage tried to hide the fact that only one Maine donor joined its campaign to take away marriage rights, and it’s good that it has finally been forced to come clean.

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