National LGBT Group Defends Gambling Mailer, Secrecy

Following the Maryland legislature’s vote to put Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gambling expansion plan on the ballot this November, legislation signed by the governor today, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force — which sent a mailer to Maryland Democrats urging them to oppose the legislative action — released a statement this afternoon regarding the efforts.

The statement, published a week after the mailing was delivered and after the vote the group had been attempting to influence had passed, was posted on the organization’s blog today.

The statement — which reiterates several points made to BuzzFeed previously but expands upon others — came from Darlene Nipper, the deputy executive director of the Task Force. In part, she wrote:

The Task Force Action Fund registered an independent expenditure committee — sometimes referred to as an independent-expenditure-only political action committee — that last week sent a mailer to a portion of registered Democratic households in Maryland advocating that an uncluttered ballot provides for the best chance for securing marriage equality this November. At issue was the possibility of this gambling measure being added to the ballot.

We do not have a position on gambling, but rather on marriage equality. Concerns had been raised that having the gambling measure added to the ballot could jeopardize the outcome of the marriage equality vote. Read more here, here and here.

The purpose of the mailer, funded by the Task Force Action Fund, which like other nonprofits includes many donors, some named and some who are not, is to get marriage equality over the finish line in Maryland. Following an early morning vote today in a special legislative session, the gambling measure is now heading to the November ballot.

The Task Force has refused to make Nipper available for an interview with BuzzFeed.

Additionally, although BuzzFeed has been requesting information about who funded the effort for the past week, the Task Force has refused to release the information. Initially, Task Force officials had told individuals who asked about the funding of the mailer that it was funded by an anonymous donor.

Besides the limited responses to questions posed to it by BuzzFeed, this is the group’s first public discussion of the mailer.

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