Stand aside, Sherlock Holmes: the inquisitive Conservative Belle is at it again. After catching David Shuster out over his inquisition of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the blogging belle trained her sights on Media Matters's fundraising practices. And now, a response she has received from an investigator at the Maryland Secretary of State's office, and reproduced in her blog of today, strongly suggests that Media Matters is in violation of the state's laws on soliciting contributions.
CB, as we like to call her, had initially raised the question in this post of October 6th. Media Matters has been sending out emails containing links to its fundaising page. This would clearly seem to constitute a solicitation. Yet as per CB's digging, Media Matters had not complied with all the registration requirements in Maryland, and under the state's law, would be prohibited from soliciting in the state.
To test her theory, she sent an email to the Maryland Secretary of State's Office, and today received this reply:
The organization needs to submit their board of directors list with alternative business addresses in order to complete registration with our office. An organization should not be soliciting without first completing its initial registration. Solicitations for charitable contributions sent via email to Maryland residents count as soliciting charitable contributions in the State of Maryland.
I cannot say for sure what exactly we would do with the organization if it were in violation of the Maryland Solicitations Act. It depends on the situation and all facts involved. We would want to solve whatever the problem may be though.
Michael P. Schlein
Office of the Secretary of State
Annapolis, MD 21401
Now, I suppose it's possible that Media Matters is not including the fundraising link in emails to its Maryland subscribers. But that would seem unlikely.
Granted, Media Matters's violation of Maryland fundraising law isn't exactly Grand Theft Auto. It's of a technical nature. Even so, if the organization is this cavalier about the the legal finepoints, might they not be similarly blasé when it comes to reporting the facts?