Marla Stevens was one of the original bloggers for Bilerico, a GLBT blog founded in Indianapolis by Bil Browning. As Browning describes her and Phyllis:
Both Marla and Phyllis Stevens have a well-respected history of LGBT and progressive activism. Marla founded one of Indiana's first gay rights organizations, LGBT Fairness, and was the first Statehouse lobbyist focusing solely on LGBT issues. Marla was also one of the first Hoosier LGBT activist to use direct action techniques to draw attention to gay rights.Marla often stirred controversy with her postings, including a defamatory post she made on Democratic congressional candidate Kris Kiser during the 2006 congressional primary for Indiana's Seventh District. Stevens, a big contributor and supporter of the Carson political machine, set out to destroy Kiser for daring to challenge the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson in the Democratic primary. Kiser, a former D.C. lobbyist and congressional staffer, made the run as the first openly gay congressional candidate in Indiana history because he believed Carson's deteriorating health left her unable to perform her job. In a controversial blog posting, Stevens accused Kiser of all kinds of sordid allegations and misconduct that focused on his sexual orientation. Kiser spent more than $200,000 of his own money on the race and lost badly to Carson, who died of cancer a year later.
Marla Stevens became one of the biggest backers of Andre Carson during his special election run to replace his grandmother. According to FEC records, Marla contributed $13,900 to Carson's congressional campaigns. Phyllis kicked in another $11,600 to Carson. Both gave thousands to the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson. A summary of her federal contributions at The Huffington Post shows that she contributed tens of thousands of contributions to various liberal Democratic candidates in recent years. Sen. Vi Simpson received a $1,000 contribution from Marla. Bilerico reports the couple contributed $175,000 to federal and state Democratic candidates during the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. Stevens' contributions identify her as Director of Public LGBT Fairness in Des Moines. Indiana campaign finance records indicate that Marla and Phyllis contributed thousands to Indiana Democratic candidates and Democratic Party committees prior to moving to Iowa. Iowa campaign records indicate that Phyllis contributed $6,000 to various state candidates there according to the Des Moines Register.
It looks like Republicans in Iowa are already seizing on the scandal to tarnish candidates who accepted money from the couple. The Iowa Republican Party noted her ties to OneIowa in this discussion about the scandal:
Yesterday, Phyllis Stevens of Des Moines was arrested by federal authorities while in Las Vegas on charges that she embezzled an estimated $5.9 million from Aviva USA, a Des Moines-based insurance company.  What is interesting about Stevens isn’t that she (allegedly) stole millions from her employer, it’s what she did with her money. Phyllis Stevens and her partner/wife, Marla Stevens, did all the things one would expect wealthy people to do, like purchase a $380,000 Sherman Hill home this past June. However, they also donated tens of thousands of dollars to liberal political candidates and pro-homosexual causes. Both Phyllis and Marla Stevens have been named in a civil suit filed by Aviva USA in an attempt to recover the embezzled funds.A couple of years ago, I raised the issue with several GLBT activists about how Marla and Phyllis could afford to contribute so much money to Andre Carson and other candidates. I was told that Marla had inherited a lot of family money, a claim which I never bought. The couple didn't have that kind of money to dole out during most of their time in Indiana. This development helps explain a lot to me. Many GLBT activists privately said they were not disappointed to see Marla leave Indiana when she and Phyllis moved to Iowa. Her abrasive, unattractive style and unconventional ways sometimes made her the laughing stock of the Indiana lobbying community during her days as a lobbyist at the State House. I'm sure many of those same people are happy the couple got busted in Iowa instead of Indiana.
In addition to being a financial analyst with Aviva USA, Phyllis Stevens also served at the chairperson of the Iowa chapter of Marriage Equality USA, a gay rights group. According to disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Phyllis’ wife, Marla Stevens, is the public policy director for the LGBT Fairness Fund.
The Fairness Fund in Iowa is an off-shoot of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization. Documents filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board show that One Iowa’s executive director, Carolyn Jenison, is also the chairperson and treasurer of the Fairness Fund, meaning it looks like Marla Stevens is basically employed by One Iowa. In addition to being gay rights activists, Phyllis and Marla Stevens are also very generous political donors. Since 2007, the couple had donated more than $60,000 to federal candidates across the country.