Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest: July 2023

Welcome to Ballotpedia’s Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest! This monthly newsletter provides news and information on key policy changes, a breakdown of state legislation, and an overview of pivotal legal decisions and case developments. In this issue, you’ll find:

  • Mid-year donor privacy and disclosure legislation review: A look at legislative trends this year compared to previous years.
  • In the courts: The latest on pivotal judicial decisions and developments across the country.
  • State by state: An analysis of this month’s state legislative activity, including bill status, topic, partisan sponsorship, and more. 
  • What we’re reading: Keep up to date on the stories and analyses we’ve been reading this month.
  • Dig deeper: Want more information on the topics covered in this issue? We’ve got you covered.

Mid-year donor privacy and disclosure legislation review

In the first six months of 2023, state legislators have introduced 54 donor privacy and disclosure bills, fewer than at this point last year but more than in 2020 or 2021. The 54 bills introduced this year represent a 29% decrease from the 76 bills introduced at this point last year. In 2021, legislators had introduced 40 bills by this point, and in 2020, they had introduced 47. 

The percentage of Democratic and Republican-sponsored bills increased since last year, with the percentage of bipartisan legislation decreasing. Democrats have sponsored 26 (48%) of the bills introduced in 2023, compared to 29 (38%) in 2022, 18 (45%) in 2021, and 22 (47%) in 2020. Republicans sponsored 21 (38%) bills this year, 24 (32%) last year, 11 (28%) in 2021, and 13 (28%) in 2020. Legislators introduced four (7%) pieces of bipartisan legislation this year and 11 (15%) last year. Four (10%) bipartisan bills were introduced in 2021, and six (13%) were introduced in 2020. 

Compared to last year, a higher percentage of bills have been introduced in states with Democratic and Republican trifectas, while the percentage of bills introduced in states with divided governments decreased. States with Democratic trifectas introduced 16 (30%) bills this year and 19 (25%) last year. States with Republican trifectas have introduced 24 (44%) bills compared to 30 (40%) bills in 2022. Divided governments have introduced 14 (26%) bills this year, down from 28 (37%) bills last year. 

States have enacted more legislation this year than in previous years. A total of 10 (19%) bills have become law so far in 2023, compared to eight (11%) in 2022, seven (18%) in 2021, and four (9%) in 2020. Republicans sponsored more enacted bills in 2023 (six) than in other years. Republicans sponsored two of the bills enacted in 2022 and three in both 2020 and 2021. Democrats sponsored one enacted bill in each of these years. The number of enacted 2023 bills with bipartisan sponsorship decreased slightly (one) from last year (two). No bipartisan legislation was enacted in 2020 or 2021. States with Democratic trifectas and states with Republican trifectas have enacted the same number of bills this year as last (two and four, respectively). States with divided governments have enacted four bills (7% of all bills introduced). These states enacted two bills (3%) in 2022. 

The percentage of bills focusing on privacy versus disclosure has remained roughly the same between this year and last. Of the bills introduced this year, 14 (26%) have primarily focused on privacy, and 39 (72%) focused on disclosure. In 2022, 18 (24%) bills were centered on privacy, while 57 (75%) were concerned with disclosure. 

Click here to see a full list of donor privacy and disclosure legislation introduced since 2020. 

In the courts

Maricopa County judge dismisses challenge to Arizona’s Proposition 211

On June 22, the Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 211.  The measure requires persons or entities making independent expenditures of $50,000 or more on a statewide campaign, or $25,000 or more on a local campaign, to disclose the money’s original sources (defined as the persons or businesses that earned the money being spent). Voters approved the measure 72-28% on Nov. 8, 2022. On Dec. 13, 2022, the Center for Arizona Policy, Inc. and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club sued Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), arguing that the law “violates Arizonans’ right to speak freely by chilling donors from supporting causes they believe in and wish to support, lest their charitable giving become public knowledge.” 

Judge Scott McCoy, who issued the dismissal, said, “The Court recognizes the importance of ‘the First Amendment’s purpose: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society.’ But the Court may not ‘ignore the competing First Amendment interests of individual citizens seeking to make informed choices in the political marketplace.’” McCoy also said the plaintiffs can file an amended complaint based on the law’s application. Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Scott Day Freeman, who represented the plaintiffs in the case, said, “Our clients and all Arizonans have a right to support the causes they believe in free from harassment, intimidation, and government interference. We are reviewing the decision to determine how best to protect the constitutional rights of our clients, and other Arizonans.” 

State by state

Since June 7, state legislatures have acted on nine donor privacy and disclosure bills, down from the 15 bills acted on last month. These nine bills represent 16.7% of the 54 bills we are tracking in 2023. Five of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, one is from a state with a Republican trifecta, and three are from states with a divided government. In comparison, we tracked 76 bills at this point in 2022 and 40 bills at this point in 2021. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

4 bills were introduced (or had pre-committee action).

  • Democratic trifectas: 2
  • Divided government: 2

1 bill passed one chamber (or had pre-adoption action in the second chamber). That bill, with its official title, is listed below. 

  • Democratic trifectas: 1
    • CA SB724: Political Reform Act of 1974: communications.

1 bill passed both chambers. That bill, with its official title, is listed below.  

  • Republican trifectas: 1
    • NH HB195: Relative to the definition of political advocacy organization.

2 bills were enacted. Those bills, with their official titles, are listed below.  

  • Democratic trifectas: 2
    • CT SB01058: An Act Concerning The Attorney General’s Recommendations Regarding Consumer Protection And Financial Reporting By Charitable Organizations.

The charts below show 2023 donor privacy and disclosure bills by partisan sponsorship and progress by state trifecta status. 

What we’re reading

Keep up with the latest events in the world of donor privacy and disclosure policy by exploring the stories linked below. 

Dig deeper

Are you hungry for more information on the topics we covered in this edition? Check out the following Ballotpedia pages: