When George Will and the ACLU Agree: FTP’s Donor Disclosure Provision Would Expose Donors to Violence
From the right, George Will writes of the “For the People Act,” now before the U.S. Senate, which would increase federal oversight of U.S. elections:
FTP sweeps beyond elections … by requiring disclosure of even small-dollar donors to organizations involved only in issue advocacy, not elections. This is sinister, given the ferocious vindictiveness of today’s virtual mobs, that hound people associated with controversial charges.
Will is critical of the entirety of FTP for extending federal power over elections. But increasingly, many liberals – who do support FTP overall – are coming to agree that the bill is too restrictive of speech and will expose donors to threats.
From the left, in a recent piece by ACLU’s Kate Ruane and Sonia Gill in The Washington Post, they report that in an effort to crack down on “dark money,” the bill could require donor disclosure of “paid political speech that discusses a public issue such as immigrants’ rights, voting rights or reproductive freedom if the communication merely mentions a candidate for public office.”
Ruane and Gill write:
We know from history that people engaged in politically charged issues become political targets and are often subject to threats of harassment or even violence.
These writers, from the left and right, are correctly predicting enormous turmoil and potential violence directed against people across the ideological spectrum if this donor disclosure measure passes.
Protect The 1st has filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Americans for Prosperity v. Rodriguez to highlight the dangers of forced donor disclosures. In this case, the state of California requires charitable non-profits to report their donors to the state, ostensibly to prevent fraud. The donors’ names are supposed to be kept under lock and key by the state but data has leaked out. In 2009, for example, the California attorney general’s office mislabeled contributions and released them on the internet, including the confidential information of hundreds of donors to Planned Parenthood.
Protect The 1st has reported many instances of people on both the left and right in California having their jobs, businesses and very lives threatened after having their donations revealed. ACLU points to a campaign to force Black Lives Matter to reveal its sources of funding.
Those organizations seeking to aggressively advance civil rights and civil liberties through paid communications about issues of public importance should not be deterred from doing so because the government may force public disclosure of their supporters’ identities.
These writers, from the left and the right, are correctly predicting enormous turmoil and potential violence directed against people across the ideological spectrum if this measure passes. Thousands of organizations that engage in advocacy will be shocked to find themselves hauled up before regulators for not complying with the stringent and invasive demands for information – all in the naïve belief that they have an inherent right as Americans to freely speak out on the issues of the day.