Supreme Court may review California, nonprofit privacy law

Should the State of California be able to end free speech by publicizing donations to non profits Progressives do not like?  When Prop. 8 was on the ballot (keeping tradition marriage between a man and a woman), donors lost their jobs, companies lost contracts—some people and companies blacklisted due to their support of a ballot measure. 

“California’s attorney general argued in court papers that the high court shouldn’t review the case because the state’s law mirrors requirements federal government mandates, specifically requiring nonprofits to disclose major donors in a form to the IRS.

“To safeguard against abuse of this tax-exempt status and other wrongdoing, federal and state laws require charitable organizations to submit information about their finances to oversight agencies,” the attorney general said.

But if the law is allowed to stand, it could embolden other state legislators, Mr. Smith said, noting there are dozens of similar donor disclosure laws pending in states across the country.

He said California has one of the strictest requirements.

Critics say disclosure can lead to harassment, which could stifle groups’ ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.

The City of Los Angeles is demanding all vendors and contractors to the City tell them if they gave money or support to the NRA—for the purpose of ending contracts and blacklisting them from further work for the City.  Maybe if you support the killing of innocent babies—like donating to or supporting Planned Parenthood—you should not work for or get a government contract.  After all, you are supporting and advocating the killing of innocent babies.  Do we want supporters of murder working for us?  Why not add them to the list?

Supreme Court may review California, nonprofit privacy law

By Alex Swoyer – The Washington Times, 1/12/20    

The Supreme Court could decide as early as Monday whether to review a California law that forces nonprofits to disclose donors to the state attorney general, testing the bounds of state government authority and privacy rights.

The Christian-centric public interest law firm Thomas More Law Center, which brought the case, argues that California’s attorney general has shown an inability to protect the information from disclosure and that forcing nonprofits to turn over donor lists would not only invade privacy but also expose them to retribution, such as doxxing.

“Normally in the United States, you don’t have to tell the government what you do — what causes you support,” said Brad Smith, chairman and founder of the Institute for Free Speech.

The high court was scheduled to discuss the case in conference last week. It would take at least four justices to agree to take up the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last year upheld California’s rules, saying the nonprofits already had to report the same information to the IRS, so reporting it to the state is acceptable. Besides, the appeals court said, the risk of disclosure by the state is small.

The Thomas More Law Center disputed that, pointing to negligent disclosure of nearly 2,000 IRS forms, including one with the names of Planned Parenthood supporters. The office of the state’s attorney general “leaks confidential records like a sieve,” the group argued.

California’s attorney general argued in court papers that the high court shouldn’t review the case because the state’s law mirrors requirements federal government mandates, specifically requiring nonprofits to disclose major donors in a form to the IRS.

“To safeguard against abuse of this tax-exempt status and other wrongdoing, federal and state laws require charitable organizations to submit information about their finances to oversight agencies,” the attorney general said.

But if the law is allowed to stand, it could embolden other state legislators, Mr. Smith said, noting there are dozens of similar donor disclosure laws pending in states across the country.

He said California has one of the strictest requirements.

Critics say disclosure can lead to harassment, which could stifle groups’ ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.

Mr. Smith said some donors, once their identity is known, are subject to online bullying, protesters descending on homes, and even employers having to terminate employees for business reasons.

Patrice Onwuka, a senior fellow with Alliance for Charitable Excellence, said donors want to remain anonymous for many reasons, but once they know their personal information is public, it could impact nonprofits’ funding because they may be less willing to give.

“In a political environment that is very divisive, you could have this doxxing movement,” Ms. Onwuka said.

In August, Rep. Joaquin Castro released dozens of names of Trump supporters online, doxxing donors to the president.

The Texas Democrat, who helped run his brother Julian Castro’s presidential campaign, was widely criticized for putting his constituents in danger of harassment, and at least one of the individuals identified received a vulgar voicemail.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. There has been repeated issues of abuse using that information.

    Two environmental non-profits in Santa Barbara County have used information gained from this law to harass and socially belittle donors of their opposition. When pointed out to the local City Councils of unfair comments and often lying by staff and groups favored by the politicians.

    This is important.

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