Retiring state Sen. David Fowler, R-Signal Mountain, the current president of Focus on the Family’s Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), recently donated $20,000 to his organization.
Fowler, who has served three terms in the state legislature, has previously criticized pro-gay-marriage amendment supporters in Tennessee for receiving financial support beyond the state borders.
Fowler’s campaign gave $20,000 to the Family Action Council of Tennessee on July 13, 2006, according to his most recent campaign financial disclosure statement. At that time, his campaign reported that it had more than $30,000 remaining in its coffers, even though he is not be seeking a fourth term in office.
The expense is reported as “For Contribution Per Requests of Contributors”.
Family Action Council of Tennessee is associated with Focus on the Family, a national organization founded by Dr. James Dobson, one of the loudest opponents of the gay-rights movement. In April 2006, when it was announced that Fowler would lead the new state organization, it was also reported that State Rep. Chris Clem (R-Lookout Mtn.) would serve on the organization's board of directors.
The Associated Press reported in April that eventually Fowler will become a lobbyist for the group, but he said he will have to wait a year to do that because of the new ethics rules.
Typically, a candidate with surplus campaign funds is required by the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act to allocate unused funds within sixty (60) days after an election.
One of the ways that candidates can disperse money is by giving it to “any organization which has received a determination of exemption from federal income taxation pursuant to subsection (3) or (4) of 26 U.S.C. 501(c), if such organization is currently operating under such exemption,” according to the Campaign Financial Disclosure Act. FACT, according to its Web site, is a 501(c)3 organization.
FACT is the biggest advocate of a "yes" vote on constitutional Amendment 1, which refuses same-sex couples the right to marry by defining marriage as between a man and woman.
Anti-gay-marriage group gets most of its support from out-of-state to pass marriage amendment
Despite criticism by Fowler in a fund-raising letter saying that those who wish to defeat the marriage amendment were raising tremendous sums of monies from out-of-state, it appears that the campaign he works for has received significant amount of support from Focus on the Family, which is not based in Tennessee.
In September, the Associated Press reported that Fowler wrote in a fund-raising letter that in a single day, an estimated “$4 million to $6 million will be spent in Tennessee by pro-homosexual individuals and organizations to defeat the marriage amendment.”
At the time, Randy Tarkington, campaign manager of Vote No on One, told the Associated Press that Fowler's contention is "ridiculous."
“There are some days we'd be thrilled with $4,000 to $6,000,” said Tarkington. “It's so typical of their tactics. Basically, they're saying, 'Let's scare people so they'll give us money.' "
A financial report filed on Oct. 9, 2006 shows that Focus on the Family’s Marriage Amendment Committee has spent more than $11,000 from July 2006 to Sept. 2006 on the upcoming constitutional marriage amendment—all of it out-of-state, with most funds used to cover postage ($9,091).
The itemized statement of expenditures shows that all of the financial support for the Focus on the Family Marriage Amendment Committee has been in-kind from the Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs, Co.
“It’s very hypocritical,” Tarkington said. “They accuse our campaign of doing something that we had not done, and then they turn around and get the majority of their support from out-of –state.”
Reports for the current period are due at the end of the quarter.
Four referendum committees have registered to support or oppose the proposed constitutional Amendment 1 with the State of Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
Committees opposing gay marriage (or supporting passage of the amendment) include:
Christians for Constitutional Amendment #1
4405 Lane Parkway
Shelbyville, TN 37160
Family Action of Tennessee
2479 Murfreesboro Rd #362
Nashville, TN 37217
Focus on the Family Marriage Amendment Committee
8605 Explorer Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
2479 Murfreesboro Rd
Nashville, TN 37217
The Family Action of Tennessee and RealMarriage.org are both arms of Focus on the Family and its related Family Marriage Amendment Committee.
Only one committee is registered opposes passage of the amendment. That campaign has been operating publicly as the Vote No on One Campaign:
P.O. Box 330895
Nashville, TN 37203