Judge: Donor identities can be kept secret — for now

Americans for prosperity logoFirst Amendment advocates are cheering a ruling by U.S. District Judge Manuel Real that foundation donor lists can be kept secret — at least until the matter winds its way through the court system. The matter concerns the billionaire Koch bothers’ Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Reported Bloomberg:

“California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s demand for the names and addresses of its donors while the group challenges the state’s disclosure requirements. The foundation, which promotes limited government and free markets and conservative causes, claims its contributors may be at risk of being targeted by its opponents, and would-be donors could be scared off, if their identities became known.”

The foundation said, “Grotesque threats have been leveled against known associates of the foundation, ranging from threats to kill or maim, to threats to firebomb buildings.”

Harris’s office said it was reviewing the ruling. “The attorney general’s office said the confidential donor information is used to investigate potential fraudulent conduct, such as donors using a charity to fund their business or pass money to family members, according to a Jan. 21 filing in federal court in Los Angeles.”

Conservative groups say the IRS already reviews such information. The groups also worry about IRS harassment. According to another Bloomberg story:

“GREENVILLE, S.C.—At a Republican Party fundraising breakfast in his district on Wednesday, Representative Trey Gowdy suggested that the congressional GOP needed to investigate the IRS’s scrutiny of political groups with the same intensity that it was investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi.”

Gowdy chairs the Benghazi investigation. Gowdy himself said:

“I’m glad that the speaker of the House convened a select committee on Benghazi. I think it makes every bit as much sense to convene a select committee on the IRS. Now that we have the Senate, the Senate has tools the House doesn’t have in terms of getting e-mails and cooperation. It has nothing to do with politics. Do you really want an IRS targeting you based on your political beliefs?”

John Seiler

John Seiler

John Seiler has been writing about California for 25 years. That includes 22 years as an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and two years for CalWatchDog.com, where he is managing editor. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Hillsdale College. He was a Russian linguist in U.S. Army military intelligence from 1978 to 1982. He was an editor and writer for Phillips Publishing Company from 1983 to 1986. He has written for Policy Review, Chronicles, LewRockwell.com, Flash Report and numerous other publications. His email: [email protected]

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