More than 100 nonprofit and conservative leaders, including Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, recently asked for action in defense of donor privacy. In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), these leaders specifically expressed concern with the actions of the attorneys general of California and New York in their treatment of donor names and addresses on Schedule B of IRS Form 990. They note, “The Lois Lerner-era decisions by the two state attorneys general to acquire, inspect, and disclose Form 990 Schedule B donor names and addresses are outside and inconsistent with the rigid regime Congress created, and violate the law of the land expressed in NAACP v. Alabama.” In addition to asking for Congress to investigate the actions by these state attorneys general, the letter signers also suggest legislators explore “whether the IRS was derelict (or complicit) in failing to act to prevent the violations.”
In related news, a federal judge ruled last month that such an effort to require a nonprofit donor list “chills” First Amendment rights of donors “to speak anonymously and to engage in expressive association.” A spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris told reporters that she intends to appeal this decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: May 27, 2016