June 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Mormon Church fined $5k for late-reported Prop 8 contributions

The Church of Latter-Day Saints has agreed to pay a proposed fine of around $5,500 for late reporting of in-kind contributions in the 2008 campaign over Proposition 8 in California, according to the Utah-based Deseret News.

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces the state’s campaign finance rules, reportedly identified 13 instances of non-monetary contributions — totaling in the amount of $39,628 — that the Mormon Church failed to report on a timely basis in accordance with state election laws.

On Thursday, the recommended action will go before the FPPC commissioners in Sacramento, Calif., for final approval.

The LDS Church is credited with being among the leading forces in the campaign in favor of Proposition 8, which ended same-sex marriage in California in 2008.

Still, last year, the Mormon Church said its total contributions to “Yes on 8” tallied at $189,904, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the $43.3 million raised by Prop 8 proponents, according to the Deseret News.

Opponents of Prop 8 in California have said they believe the Mormon Church’s support for the initiative is evident in the individual contributions that church members made to the “Yes on 8” campaign.

In a statement, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, praised the FPPC for its action. The HRC statement said the fine “may seem inconsequential,” but sheds light on the Mormon Church’s activities in the Prop 8 campaign.

HRC said the proposed fine “provides ongoing evidence that the Mormon Church was a significant leader in the campaign to repeal marriage equality, even while it evaded standard reporting requirements and denied its involvement.”

Scott Trotter, an LDS Church spokesman, was quoted in the Deseret News as saying the church reported all its contributions to the “Yes on 8” campaign, but acknowledged that it failed to report some non-monetary contributions in a brief period before Election Day.

“In the last two weeks leading up to the election, the Church mistakenly overlooked the daily reporting requirement and instead reported those contributions together in a later filing,” Trotter reportedly said.

According to the Deseret News, the FFPC could have imposed of $5,000 fine for each infraction depending on their severity, but settled on a “streamlined enforcement process” and fined the church 15 percent of the value for each late-reported contribution.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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