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Urgent Alert to U.S. Nonprofits–Immediate Action Needed

If you’re willing to turn over the list of your top donors to the government then you need read no further.

However, if you’re not sure, or you’re absolutely certain you’d be unwilling to give up the donor list, then take this post to your CEO and General Counsel. Immediately.

Why? Because right now the Attorney General of California is set on requiring that any nonprofit seeking a license to solicit funds in the nation’s largest state first turn over their lists of top donors that are filed with the IRS on a supposedly “confidential” schedule of your tax return.

This dangerous and unconstitutional power grab in the name of ‘fundraising regulation’ and ‘consumer protection’ must be stopped.

And it’s up to all of us—nonprofits and the companies that serve them to stand up now and take action.

Whether or not your organization or one you serve solicits funds in California the battle ahead will affect the freedom of speech and privacy rights of every nonprofit in the U.S. and their donors.

In a moment I’ll outline the steps you can take immediately to head off this threat. But first some background.

A year ago this week The Agitator warned [1] about a sinister move by the Oklahoma Attorney General and his special interest contributors to silence the Humane Society of United States (HSUS) using that state’s fundraising regulations.

HSUS has boldly and, so far, successfully fought back.

As I pointed out last August there have been relatively few occasions in modern history where politicians have blatantly sought to use the power of their office to silence nonprofits that opposed them or whose views and ideology they disagreed with.

At the end of the day, Americans and the U.S. Supreme Court have shown little tolerance for political zealots and bullies who abuse U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and due process.

NOW …The Intimidators At It Again. And We Must Make Sure They Lose. Again.

Right now, in an approach reminiscent of the 1958 attempt by the State of Alabama to intimidate and silence the NAACP by seeking to compel it to turn over its membership and contributor lists, the Attorney General of California is also attempting to intimidate a nonprofit by forcing it to give up the names of top donors in order to be granted a permit to solicit funds.

History repeats itself with slight variations. This time it’s a liberal Attorney General (Kamala Harris) in opposition to the conservative Center for Competitive Politics [2]

It doesn’t matter whether your organization is ideologically ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, ‘neutral’ or ‘agnostic’ the threat to free speech and due process is exactly the same.

And that’s why it’s time for every organization, every agency and every nonprofit supplier cares about basic constitutional rightsto join the fight to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

ACTION STEPS YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION SHOULD TAKE

 

[ If you’d like more information or wish to refer your general counsel, CEO or someone in your organization to the attorney in charge of building this coalition of the concerned please contact Mark Fitzgibbons at 703-392-7676 or mfitzgibbons@americantarget.com ]

For freedom.

 

Roger

P.S. Mark Fitzgibbons, the attorney who prepared the draft Amicus Brief, is a long-time warrior on behalf on nonprofit constitutional and donor rights. He’s been part of the active core of the Free Speech Coalition for years and I’ve joined in battle many times. He’s a fighter.

He also serves as President of Corporate Affairs at American Target Advertising whose founder is direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie. In the 40 years Richard and I’ve been battling each other ideologically and politically I think there’s only been one thing we’ve always agreed on: the importance of the Constitutional guarantees of free speech and due process unhampered by the meddling hands officials who abuse their power in attempts to silence those with whom they disagree.

So, once more we go into battle together. I hope you’ll join us.

P.P.S. Time is short. We need to hear from as many organizations as possible. So, when your organization is ready to sign on please identify the name of your organization, and whether it is a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4).  I ask that you reply by Friday, August 21. 

Please send your reply to mfitzgibbons@americantarget.com [5] or to me at Roger@TheAgitator.net [6] .

 

 

 

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6 Comments To "Urgent Alert to U.S. Nonprofits–Immediate Action Needed"

#1 Comment By Simone Joyaux On August 13, 2015 @ 6:13 am

This happened in RI years ago. And we fought it off. Constant fights. Continual hassles.

#2 Comment By Holli On August 13, 2015 @ 9:07 am

I noticed that the Free Speech Coalition hasn’t had any site activity since last year… that seems pretty odd.

#3 Comment By Rob Mitchell On August 13, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

Perhaps we should enact HIPPA like legislation protecting philanthropic activity? This should be totally private information unless the donor and recipient agree to release it.

#4 Comment By Robert Tigner On August 13, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

For the record, only two weeks ago NY AG Schneiderman announced a victory in Federal district court against a solicitation law registrant trying to block the AG’s claim that he was entitled to routinely collect Sched. B of the Form 990. Schedule B is the listing of major donors.

Here’s what the AG said in his press release: “Charitable donors, beneficiaries, and the general public deserve to know that we have the tools to ensure that charitable funds are properly used and can take action against dishonest fundraisers and solicitors. I look forward to continuing to enforce our charities laws to ensure that New York’s nonprofit sector – which is responsible for one in seven jobs in our State – remains the strongest in the nation.”

I’ve been searching for a one-word characterization of his quote. Here’s the best I could do: “Humbug!”

#5 Comment By Mark Fitzgibbons On August 13, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

Hi Holli,

Free Speech Coalition is very underfunded since it relies mostly on contributions from nonprofits, and no longer has “staff,” which is why its website reflects little activity.

It was founded in 1993, and has been hugely effective in various cases, including the ATA v. Giani case decided in 2000. It has filed amicus briefs in the major First Amendment cases affecting nonprofits.

FSC has a monthly call in which I participate, where we discuss what FSC can do to protect rights of nonprofits. As with this case, it rises to the occasion for certain cases, but unfortunately doesn’t have the resources to maintain the website and do other things that many of us wish it could do.

#6 Comment By Michael J. Rosen On August 18, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

Roger, thank you for sounding the alarm and giving me permission to share your post with my readers at Michael Rosen Says… ( [7]). I have also shared the post with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Government Relations Committee. AFP’s General Counsel is aware of the situation and is coordinating AFP’s response with sector colleagues.