As if you didn’t know, election season is in overdrive and LGBT groups are putting serious money into several key campaigns across the country.

The recently formed lesbian SuperPAC LPAC just announced its first endowment, a $50,000 matching fund to support Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

If elected, Baldwin, whose had a distinguished career in the House, would be the first openly gay member of the U.S, Senate. Her opponents in the GOP, LPAC reminds us, are all anti-gay and anti-choice, and have millions of dollars at their disposal to attack her, courtesy of folks like Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Beyond Baldwin’s assets as a politician, her seat is essential to keep the Senate in the hands of Democrats. (We don’t want to imagine what would happen if Republicans controlled both houses. Does the phrase “Contract with America” mean anything to you?)

Another LGBT organization, though, has us a little stymied with their expenditures. BuzzFeed is reporting that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force recently sent a mailer to Maryland Democrats encouraging them to tell their legislators not to back a measure to extend gambling in the state.

What does that have to do with marriage equality and gay rights, you ask?

“This mailer, which was funded by the Task Force Action Fund, is part of the effort to get marriage equality over the finish line in Maryland by advocating that an uncluttered ballot provides for the best chance for securing marriage equality this November,” said Task Force deputy executive director Darlene Nipper.

But the NGLTF originally claimed the mailer was funded by NGLTF’s Maryland Political Action Committee, which would be required to reveal its donors and limit contributions. The next day, though, the advocacy group stated the money came from an “independent expenditure committee” which has less obligation to disclose its sources.

BF’s Chris Geidner breaks it down:

The group that sent the mailer, started this past week by the Task Force, is an independent expenditure committee, allowing it to have been funded through a single contribution to the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force’s Action Fund, which then could have been funneled to the independent expenditure committee for the purpose of sending the mailing to Maryland Democrats.

Depending on how many mailers actually were sent—there are more than 1.8 million registered Democrats in Maryland—the mailing could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Task Force has refused to name the source of the significant amount of money required to produce the mailing, and would not respond to questions raised about whether the money came from an anonymous source outside of the organization, instead only providing a response from its acting executive director, Darlene Nipper, that the effort was “funded by the Task Force Action Fund.”

Was this a case of political back-scratching? But a marriage-equality bill has already passed the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates, and been signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley—In fact it’s now being challenged in a public referendum in the November elections. So how does making backroom deals in Annapolis help now?

And can we afford to lose the essential gambling vote? Those slot jockeys know how to pull levers.

Photo: Emily Mills

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