MINNEAPOLIS -- Spending on Minnesota's two constitutional amendment ballot questions has already topped the $20 million mark.
Campaign finance disclosure reports released in the past week shed much light on how the money fight's going, and who is paying for those ubiquitous TV ads, yard signs, billboards, rallies, mailers and phone banks.
Opponents to the marriage amendment outraised supporters by a two to one margin in the period between January 1st and October 22nd.
The measure would take the state's existing ban on gay marriage and place it in the state constitution, making it impossible for a state-level judge to strike down that ban in the future.
The group opposed to the amendment, Minnesotans United for All Families, took in $9.7 million during that period. By contrast Minnesota for Marriage, the campaign working to pass the amendment, took in $3.7 million.
The "Vote No" campaign boasts 62,000 individual donors, many from Minnesota. But since October 22nd several major out-of-state donors have weighed in, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who gave $125,000.
Alida Messinger, the Rockefeller heir and former wife of Governor Mark Dayton, also contributed $200,000 to the cause last week.
Actor/director Brad Pitt on Monday donated $100,000 to a separate organization, the Human Rights Campaign National Marriage Fund, which is also spending money in Minnesota in an effort to defeat the amendment.
Marriage amendment backers have tapped into the religious community and national nonprofits that object to gay marriage. The Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense Fund donated $900,000 between Jan. 1st and Oct. 22nd.
Since Oct. 22nd, the Catholic Conference has plunked down an additional $100,000 for the campaign.
The Minnesota Family Council gave $350,000 during the first nine months of the year, but threw $800,000 into the effort last week. The National Organization for Marriage put $1.4 million into the campaign before Oct. 22nd, but since then has given another $350,00.
Voter ID Amendment
Opponents of the voter photo ID amendment have also raised more campaign cash than those who back it.
Our Vote Our Future, the group opposed to the change, raised $2.6 million between Jan. 1 and Oct. 22. That compares with $1.5 million raised during the same period by voter ID backers, who are campaigning under the name of ProtectMyVote.com.
The measure would require voters to present government-issued photo ID's in order to vote. Those lacking proper I-D, or registering on election day, would be issued provisional ballots, only to be counted once their eligibility an be verified.
Supporters say it's essential for preventing voter fraud before a ballot is counted, rather than prosecuting someone after the election is over. They point to nearly 200 felons prosecuted for voting in 2008 before they were off probation, which is illegal.
Opponents point out those felons didn't pretend to be someone else, which is what photo ID's are designed to prove. There are no documented cases in recent history of Minnesotans being prosecuted for voter impersonation or double voting.
Nearly 90 percent of all the money raised during 2012 by Protect My Vote came from a single donor, Joan Cummins of Deephaven. She is married to prolific Republican donor Robert Cummins, who owns Primera Technology, a worldwide printer supplier based in Plymouth.
"Why is one individual spending working to permanently change our state constitution?," Greta Bergstrom of Our Future Our Vote remarked.
"That's $1.3 million to permanently cancel out hundreds of thousands of eligible Minnesota voters," she added, citing a prediction that many voters who can now register to vote will have trouble securing the I-D's they need to comply with the proposed amendment.
Dan McGrath, who runs Protect My Vote, said he wouldn't comment on the Cummins family's role in bankrolling the campaign. He did say, however, that he appreciated their donation.
"We expected to be outspent," McGrath told KARE. "With the truth on our side, we don't need to match the opposition dollar for dollar."
The only major donation McGrath's group has received since Oct. 22nd was a $10,000 contribution from Hubbard Broadcasting Incorporated reported on Monday.
The single largest contribution to Our Vote Our Future was $500,000 which came from the Open Society Policy Center, a Washington-based nonprofit founded by billionaire George Soros.
The opposition's top personal donor is Ms. Messinger, who contributed $75,000 to the effort to defeat Voter ID.
Since Oct. 22, the group received a $100,000 donation from America Votes, a progressive nonprofit organization in Washington.
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