Amicus Brief: A politician attempts to scare donors away from charities

February 9, 2016
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We’ve had so much good news lately that we’re behind on telling you about all of it. Here’s a case in point…
We haven’t yet told you about the amicus brief we filed in the case “Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Kamala D. Harris.” In fact, we not only didn’t tell you about this brief before we filed it, but we also didn’t raise money for it. There’s been so much going on, we just did it (as members of the Free Speech Coalition).
This case is important. Some states are attempting to force charitable groups, like ours, to disclose information more information about donors, like you. This could have a “chilling effect” on charitable fundraising for two reasons…

  1. Imagine how many donor dollars would evaporate if reports like this had to be filed with all 50 states.
  2. Imagine how many people might NOT want to have their charitable giving reported to government bureaucrats who have vast power to retaliate against people and causes they don’t like (just think of the recent Lerner IRS scandal for one example).

Put these things together and many charities could close, or fail to raise sufficient funds to accomplish their mission. Even worse…
Ms. Harris, the Attorney General of California, was seeking this information from charities even though she had no legal authority to do so. She did it on her own initiative. Her request also violates federal tax law. Well…
Despite these problems, and more, a panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled that Ms. Harris could collect this information because similar reporting has already been approved for federal elections. Oops!
A charity is not a political campaign. In fact, charities are specifically prohibited from being involved in elections. In addition, donating to charities cannot be used to win legislative favors (which is the presumed reason for reporting campaign donations).
Our brief makes all of the above arguments, plus one more. Historically, anonymity is an important right. It exists to protect persons from retribution by government officials.
We were able to file this brief, without special fundraising for it, because of the steady financial support of people like you. And as a result…
The Ninth Circuit has asked Ms. Harris to write a response to the charges that have been leveled against her action. We take this as a hopeful sign that the panel will decide to block her continued collection of confidential donor information. Meanwhile…
We’ve received a DEADLINE EXTENSION for our amicus brief on the case Birchfield v. North Dakota. Remember, the Birchfield case is another Fourth Amendment case that attempts to extend the victory we achieved in U.S. v. (Antoine) Jones. You can read about that brief in the blog post titled, “How to stop cops from drawing your blood without a warrant.”
In the meantime, we could still use additional support as we complete that brief, so if you like what we’re doing, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Downsize DC Foundation, using the secure, Zero Aggression Project form.
Thanks again for your support,
Jim Babka & Perry Willis


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