Wednesday, April 20, 2011

AFER's IRS 990: $3.4M Raised
For Prop 8 Legal Challenge

The first IRS 990 filing for the American Foundation for Equal Rights is now available for public inspection, and to their credit, the group's leaders have posted their FY 2009 filing on their site.

Revenue is listed at $3.4 million, and $2.6 million was spent on "sponsorship of the federal court challenge of California's Proposition 8, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger."

Another expense, for a "public awareness campaign to promote full civil rights for the LGBT community", was listed and that amount was $312,333."

In the section for independent contractors, AFER reports spending nearly $1.7 million for "legal and ancillary legal expenses" through Griffin, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. That's the firm were Ted Olson is a partner.

I'd say the gay community got a much better deal out of the $3.4 million spent by AFER in FY 2009 fighting for gay marriage in the courts, than we got from the $45 million wasted by the No on Prop 8 campaign and its lead organization in the election of 2008, Equality California.

Speaking of which, EQCA recently announced a series of town hall meetings across the state to discuss the possibility of mounting a 2012 repeal at the ballot box. The argument for going back to the voters next year, with EQCA again serving as a leader in that battle, is that we shouldn't put all our eggs in the basket of the courts.

This pro-2012 repeal argument calls for at least $53 million to be raised for that campaign. A frightening thought, when so many direct-service health agencies serving LGBT people and persons with AIDS are struggling to keep the doors open.

Glad to say, I don't hear any serious proposal being made to trust EQCA again with millions of precious gay dollars, when Perry v. Schwarzenegger and other legal challenges fighting for gay marriage are working their way through the courts.

Final thoughts on AFER's IRS 990. Their revenue probably jumped significantly in FY 2010, which will be reported in next year's tax filing. I also give AFER's leaders a gold star for voluntarily posting their IRS 990 on their site and that it's so easy to locate.

Here's the image of the tax filing's opening page. Click to enlarge:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you sort of missed the real story when it comes to AFER. There is no question that their efforts have yielded results and that they deserve praise for posting the 990. But the real issue is why gay donors are asked to pay millions of dollars to cover the fees of Boies and Olson when this sort of landmark civil rights case is typically handled pro bono. Boies and Olson are partners in some of the most lucrative law firms in the world. They are both multi-millionaires making 7 and possibly in some years 8 figures on an annual basis. They could have done this pro bono thus allowing our $3 million to be used to pursue equality in other states or in other areas of life. Instead, limited gay money is flowing to 2 extraordinarily wealthy corporate law firms.

Also, if the plaintiffs win, CA will have to pay the plaintiffs' fees in an amount approved by the court. Depending upon the size of that fee award, and in order to avoid getting paid twice for the same work, the lawyers would then return to AFER some or all of the fees paid to them previously by AFER. Will AFER then in turn refund that money to all of the individual donors?