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Marriage amendment reports detail state’s most expensive ballot battle ever

Minnesota for Marriage, the group pushing for the amendment, has raised about $5 million, while the vote-no coalition has raised twice as much.

The battle over the marriage amendment is the most expensive ballot contest in the state’s history.
REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Earlier this week, the committees campaigning for and against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota released updated reports on their fundraising and spending. The top story remains the same as it has since the campaigns launched: It is the most expensive ballot contest in the state’s history.

Minnesota for Marriage, the group pushing for the amendment, has raised about $5 million, the lion’s share from the Catholic Church, the Minnesota Family Council and its sister group, the National Organization for Marriage.

Minnesotans United for All Families, the vote-no coalition, raised twice as much, most of it from 62,000 individual donors. It also reported seven-figure contributions from national organizations as well as $1.2 million in in-kind contributions.

MinnPost has updated its searchable database of contributors to both efforts.

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In terms of spending, the reports yield a few tidbits. Minnesota for Marriage will have spent [PDF] $3 million on television ads by the time the polls close; $877,000 of that amount has yet to be paid to Mission Public Affairs, the consulting firm that created the ads and whose principal, Frank Schubert, is managing the campaign.

Minnesotans United for All Families has spent [PDF] $4.2 million on TV ads and more than $125,000 on online advertising.

With the expected margin wafer-thin, both groups have spent heavily on increasingly sophisticated voter-targeting efforts. Minnesotans United lists more than half a million dollars in fees paid to firms consulting on everything from research to media messaging to identification of likely swing voters.  

Minnesota for Marriage spent more than $400,000 on campaign management and consulting, and owes $53,000 to a Washington, D.C., concern that provided legal advice concerning campaign finance matters.

Both sides show numerous in-kind contributions and expenditures for voter lists, although as a coalition whose members already maintained such lists, Minnesotans United spent a fraction as much as its opponents. Although most of the lists were valued at a few hundred dollars each, the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense Fund contributed a list valued at nearly $52,000.

While Minnesotans United spent far more on campaign staff, its employees are living leaner. Its campaign manager, Richard Carlbom, earned $6,400 a month. Minnesota for Marriage’s campaign is being managed by Schubert, but Deputy Campaign Manager Andy Parrish, a former aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann, is paid $10,000 a month.