Thursday, August 20, 2015

ADF's crowd funding scam

Con Artist

In addition to donations, Alliance Defending Freedom is aggressively pursuing inflated legal fees through subterfuge.

In April Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington State florist who discriminated against a gay couple, was engaged in a money-beg on one of the crowd funding sites, GoFundMe. It was subsequently shut down by the host but it was clear that the site was set up by ADF and that any money collected would go to ADF. Before it was shut down, Stutzman’s GoFundMe campaign had raise about $174,000 in donations. None of that money went to Stutzman. Stutzman's liability was a $1,000 fine.

At about the same time, GoFundMe terminated a campaign by Aaron and Melissa Klein (Sweet Cakes by Melissa), the Oregon operation that was found guilty of discrimination.  They are also represented by ADF. I do not know how much money was raised but they are begging for money elsewhere. They have collected far in excess of the $135,000 (on appeal) that they owe to their victims.

A new funding site has sprung up for the Colorado Baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakes. While he has incurred some lost business he was not fined when found guilty of discrimination. His goal is to raise $200,000. The page is written in the third person with no indication of where the money is going and whether or not donations are tax deductible. If you believe the indicator on the page, the campaign has raised $26,000. I would bet my – I am trying to think of an appreciably gay possession – that the money is also going to ADF. According to the pitch “100% of the funds received will be used to support Jack.” Yeah, by paying legal fees that he never should have incurred.

Yet if you look at ADF's website they claim that donations make “it possible for Alliance Defending Freedom and its more than 2,500 Allied Attorneys to defend religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family in America and around the world.” The make it appear as if they represent people pro bono. In these cases ADF is pursuing a right to discriminate against LGBT citizens and taxpayers in defiance of anti-discrimination laws.

Keep in mind that all of these cases are futile and ADF knows that they are futile. As I wrote earlier today this is all settled law. It was settled 25 years ago with Scalia's opinion for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith. Even in a post Hobby Lobby world, there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid state laws. Scalia left no room for doubt. Recently, the Court had an opportunity to reconsider Smith when it was asked to review Elane Photography v. Willock. Elane is that New Mexico photographer that we continue to hear so much about and the attorney was ADF. In April, 2014 the Court denied the petition to consider the case.

Let us also remember that none of these people are victims. The real victims are the LGBT citizens who were told “we don't serve your kind here.”

So, in summary, they are churning legal fees in appeals that they know they cannot win, all the while giving the impression that they are representing clients pro bono. ADF uses these cases to make countless appeals for donations which, I strongly suspect, are far greater than the actual expenses to defend them. On top of that they are asking for additional donations that seem to go to some persecuted Christian but, in reality, are going into ADF's coffers. At the end of 2013, ADF had net assets of nearly $35 million.

It amounts to self-righteous Christians taking advantage of the gullible faithful.

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