A state political action committee run by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave $10,000 to a conservative group that has come under scrutiny for plans to “drive a wedge” between African-Americans and gays, according to documents revealed Friday.

Free & Strong America PAC Alabama, one of a network of state-level PACs that has raised and disbursed money on Romney’s behalf, gave the donation in 2008 to the National Organization for Marriage, which at the time was working to pass Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California, disclosure records show.


File photo of a man opposed to same-sex marriage protesting outside City Hall in San Francisco prior to a judge lifting the Proposition 8 stay on same-sex marriages. (Robert Galbraith/REUTERS)

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, argues that Romney disbursed the money through his little-known Alabama PAC in an attempt to avoid drawing national attention to the donation and said it could violate California disclosure requirements. The group said it first learned of the gift from confidential NOM tax records provided by a whistleblower, which listed the money as coming from a PAC address in Massachusetts.

The Romney campaign says the donation to NOM is hardly surprising given the candidate’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his avowed support for Proposition 8, which was approve by California voters.

“Gov. Romney believes marriage is an institution between a man and a woman and his PAC made a donation to a group supporting that view,” campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said Friday.

The Proposition 8 campaign had heavy support from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which Romney is a prominent member. California state records show that several Romney family members--his son Matt and two daughters-in-law--gave a combined $1,400 in personal donations to the effort.

NOM has come under scrutiny this week in connection with internal documents released in a Maine court case outlining its plan to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” over the issue of same-sex marriage.

The plans also advocate “making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity--a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

“Mitt Romney’s funding of a hate-filled campaign designed to drive a wedge between Americans is beyond despicable,” said Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign. “Not only has Romney signed NOM’s radical marriage pledge, now we know he’s one of the donors that NOM has been so desperate to keep secret all these years.”

NOM has defended its efforts targeting racial minorities for support. “Gay marriage is not a civil right, and we will continue to point this out in written materials such as those released in Maine,” NOM president Brian Brown said in a statement this week. “We proudly bring together people of different races, creeds and colors to fight for our most fundamental institution: marriage.”

President Obama’s reelection campaign is actively seeking support from gay and lesbian donors and voters, pointing to his role in ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and other pro-gay policies. But Obama’s position on same-sex marriage--he has been opposed but has said he is “evolving” on the issue--has angered some gay-rights activists and prompted an internal Democratic Party debate ahead of the 2012 elections.