Citizens Against Government Waste: California Cases Challenge Threats to Donor Privacy
By Spencer Chretien
The federal Schedule B requirements are onerous and unnecessary. But they become outright dangerous when states try to commandeer them, which is exactly the scheme that California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a U.S. Senator, and her successor as Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, have engineered. Under current rules, California forces any charity soliciting donations in the state to turn over its unredacted Schedule B form to the state. Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP Foundation), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, filed suit in December 2014 claiming this requirement violated its First Amendment right to freedom of association. AFP Foundation donors have experienced harassment and intimidation by political opponents, so its situation represents an ideal opportunity for a legal challenge. The case has seesawed its way through the judiciary; on June 25, 2018, a panel of judges on the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard arguments on whether AFP Foundation is entitled to a permanent injunction against the requirement. The Institute for Free Speech, then known as the Center for Competitive Politics, filed a separate challenge to the Attorney General’s Schedule B demand in March 2014. The Institute’s case challenges the requirement for all organizations; AFP Foundation’s challenges the requirement as applied to AFP Foundation.
Regardless of what the 9th Circuit decides, this issue is likely to be settled eventually by the Supreme Court…
Until the Supreme Court decides to take up this issue once more, it will be necessary for nonprofit organizations and all concerned citizens to fight back against misguided attempts at “transparency” that chill speech, create a hostile environment for donors, and waste taxpayer dollars on maintaining lists of those who hold certain views and interests.