Carlsbad Current-Argus: Secretary of State’s power grab on nonprofit privacy (In the News)

Carlsbad Current-Argus: Secretary of State’s power grab on nonprofit privacy

By Bradley Smith and Paul Gessing

This spring, the New Mexico Legislature considered imposing new donor disclosure rules on nonprofit organizations. The measure was vetoed by Governor Martinez over privacy concerns. Now Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is attempting to impose those rules by bureaucratic fiat, using a regulation to enact what couldn’t be done through the normal lawmaking process.

Bureaucratic rules can serve an important function. They help to implement and clarify laws that are passed by the legislature.

But here, instead of implementing the law, the Secretary of State’s Office is enacting rules that were rejected in the constitutional lawmaking process. Although pitched as “political disclosure,” as Governor Martinez wrote in her veto message in April, “the broad language in the bill could lead to unintended consequences that would force groups like charities to disclose the names and addresses of their contributors in certain circumstances.”

Furthermore, the rules, if adopted, will almost certainly be challenged in court…

Governor Martinez wisely chose to avoid this course of action for New Mexico. We should be cautious when considering proposals that restrict or chill charitable giving. We should especially not impose such policies through a subversion of the democratic process. 

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