Sacramento Bee: Nonprofits take privacy claims ever further (In the News)

The Editorial Board

The Internal Revenue Service and states require that nonprofit corporations provide identities of donors when they file their tax returns. That’s part of the price they and their donors pay for receiving federal and state tax breaks. The tax returns are public documents, but donor lists are not.

In California, Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Department of Justice Division of Charitable Trust regulate nonprofits. Noticing that some groups had failed to provide donor lists, Harris sent letters last year insisting that they abide by long-standing law, or risk losing their tax-exempt status. To conduct that oversight, she has a reasonable claim to donor records.

Among the recipients of her letter was the Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia-based nonprofit that regularly sues to unravel campaign finance law. True to form, the center’s lawyers sued to block Harris’ request.                                                           

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.