Political consultant registers eight committees on both sides of gay marriage issue

Robert Kaplan knows how he feels about gay marriage. You just wouldn't know if by looking at his committee filings.

The Los Angeles-based political consultant has registered eight committee names with the Secretary of State's office this month. Four of these committee names appear to indicate support for same-sex marriage and opposition to a ballot initiative that would ban the practice; four others indicate the opposite.

In fact, all the of names he's registered come in pairs: Americans for Same-Sex Marriage, Americans Against Same-Sex Marriage, Californians For Same-Sex Marriage, Californians Against Same-Sex Marriage, Yes on Gay Marriage, No on Gay Marriage, Yes on Same-Sex Marriage, No on Same-Sex Marriage.

"I've been approached by interested parties on both sides because I raise money," Kaplan said. "There has been a lot of interest in the issue, as you can imagine. I thought I might decide to work for whichever side paid me more. But I just decided morally I just can't do that."

Morally, Kaplan said, he approves of marriage equality and opposes the constitutional ban, which California voters approved in 2000.  He said that he has been in talks to work with an independent expenditure campaign in support of same-sex marriage, but nothing is yet official. But he'd already picked up several "easily identifiable names."

"I'd be a one side, so I decided to lock up the other," Kaplan said.

Kaplan is the founder of Robert Kaplan Fundraising Inc., and claims to have raised over $100 million in his career. He's worked on behalf of environmental campaigns in several states. The American Association of Political Consultants lists him as a board member and their 2008 Fundraiser of the Year. Kaplan is no relation to the famous political affairs author and Atlantic Monthly contributor with the same name.

The initiative campaign to put a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution comes after a May decision by the California Supreme Court. By a 4-3 vote, the Justices rules the state's ban on gender neutral marriage violated equal protection standards and was unconstitutional. Couples started getting married in mid-June.

Spokespeople on both sides of the issue have estimated that the campaign spending could top $30 million between the two sides. So far, each side has raised around $2 million, with a slight fundraising advantage for same-sex marriage foes.

Each side has relied on a combination of hundreds of small donations combined with few large donors. On June 12, the Colorado-based Focus on the Family gave $250,000, bringing their spending to support the initiative to a total of $383,000. The Santa Ana-based National Organization for Marriage California has put in $921,000.

On June 13, James Hormel, an openly gay philanthropist and political donor who held several Foreign Service posts in the Clinton Administration, donated $100,000 to the campaign against the initiative. Hormel has now given a total of $200,000 to that cause, as has high-tech multimillionaire David Bohnett. The Equality for All committee run by Equality California has put in $870,000.

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