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:
- Missouri enacts bill amending privacy act: Missouri governor signs legislation modifying the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act.
- 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.
Missouri enacts bill amending privacy act
On July 6, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed SB28, a bill modifying provisions of the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act. Under the Act, government agencies are prohibited from disclosing information identifying a person as a member, supporter, or donor to a nonprofit organization. SB28 amends the Act by specifying disclosure requirements for tax credits, government contracts, and law enforcement investigations.
The Personal Privacy Protection Act was enacted through HB2400. Rep. Dan Houx (R) introduced the bill, which was originally related to retirement and welfare benefits plans, on Jan. 11, 2022. The state House passed the bill unanimously on April 4, and the state Senate passed an amended version 27-6 on May 6, with 10 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting for the bill. Rep. Jered Taylor (R) offered an amendment to the bill containing the Personal Privacy Protection Act on May 12. The amended legislation received bipartisan support in the House, with 28 Democrats and 101 Republicans voting in favor of the bill on May 12. Parson signed the bill into law on June 30. Five other states, Georgia, Indiana, New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia, also enacted donor privacy laws in 2022.
While supporters of the Act said it would protect donors’ ability to contribute to causes they support, critics said it could inhibit government functions and transparency, especially regarding records nonprofits are required to submit to obtain government contracts. In August 2022, Parson’s administration ended public access to state contract records through the Office of Administration’s website, increasing calls for legislation to clarify provisions of the Act.
SB28 allows government agencies to disclose information with the written permission of all individuals who might be identified through the release. It also specifies that the Personal Privacy Protection Act does not prevent the disclosure of donor information contained in a financial interest statement. It creates additional exceptions to the Act for information disclosed as part of a legal investigation and records nonprofits submit to obtain government contracts.
SB28 originally focused on regulating access to public records of the Missouri Highway Patrol. Sen. Justin Brown (R) introduced the bill on Jan. 4, 2023, and the Senate passed it on Feb. 3. Lawmakers added the provisions relating to donor privacy on May 1, and the bill passed the House of Representatives on May 10.
Supporters of SB28 said it allows the state to effectively partner with nonprofits while still protecting donor privacy. Office of Administration representative Chris Moreland said “the contracts website would be restored to its pre-Aug. 28, 2022, status, which would allow OA Purchasing to devote its limited staff resources to procurement rather than records requests.”
Others, such as Americans for Prosperity Missouri State Director Jeremy Cady, said the issue was with the interpretation of the existing act under the current administration, not with its language: “A number of states have passed similar laws. We haven’t seen these issues in other states. So we’re not entirely sure why this has become as much of an issue as it has been.” After SB28’s enactment, Cady said, “I’m just hopeful [SB28] provides the clarity needed to ensure the privacy of Missourians is protected while ensuring government remains open and transparent.”
Missouri legislators introduced five donor privacy and disclosure bills this year, more than any other state except New York, where legislators introduced eight bills. Of these five bills, only SB28 passed both chambers of the legislature before the end of the state’s legislative session on May 12. Click here to view all of the bills introduced in Missouri and elsewhere this year.
In the courts
Groups file amended complaint in challenge to Arizona’s Proposition 211
On July 21, the attorney for plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s Proposition 211 filed an amended complaint in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Proposition 211 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 dismissed the challenge on June 22, said the plaintiffs could file an amended complaint based on the law’s application if the organizations could show “reasonable probability that disclosure of its contributors’ names will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either government officials or private parties.”
Goldwater Institute Senior Attorney Scott Day Freeman, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, filed an amended complaint containing affidavits from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod and Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi. Herrod said, “Harassment, often obscene, of me, as CAP’s public face, continues unabated on social media and through telephone calls to our office…If CAP were required to disclose confidential donor information, however, CAP’s donors would not be protected, and they are likely to face similar forms of retaliation for CAP’s positions, whether or not they agree with those positions.” Mussi said, “Donors have informed me that they would limit, alter, or eliminate their contributions to FEC if their names, addresses, and employers are publicly disclosed.”
Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group supporting ” limited government and free markets on the local, state, and federal levels,” filed a separate challenge to Proposition 211 in federal court on March 17. The case has not yet been assigned a hearing date.
State by state
Since July 12, state legislatures have not acted on any donor privacy and disclosure bills, a decrease from the nine bills acted on last month. We have tracked a total of 55 bills in 2023. 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.
States have enacted more donor privacy and disclosure legislation this year than in the past three years, with the number of enacted bills increasing yearly since 2020. See our analysis of enacted bills from 2020 to 2023 here.
The map and charts below show donor privacy and disclosure bills introduced by state and enacted bills by partisan sponsorship from 2020 to 2023, respectively.
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.
- Philanthropy Roundtable, “New York Attorney General’s Office Admits It Leaked Private Donor Information ” July 21, 2023
- The NonProfit Times, “No Federal Help Expected For Donor Privacy,” July 18, 2023
- CBIZ, “Bill Would Curb IRS Oversight of EO Donors, Political Activity,” July 18, 2023
- People United for Privacy, “Over 70 Nonprofits Urge Congress to Support the ACE Act’s Donor Privacy Protections,” July 12, 2023
- The Seattle Times, “Complaint pushes for WA AG Ferguson to reveal donors of $1.2M in campaign transfers,” July 10, 2023
Are you hungry for more information on the topics we covered in this edition? Check out the following Ballotpedia pages: