Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest: December 2023

Note: Today’s newsletter is the final edition of Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest. We are so grateful for your readership over the past four years. Want in-depth reporting about federal courts, election policy, school board politics, and more? Check out and subscribe to Ballotpedia’s other newsletters here.

Welcome to the final edition of Ballotpedia’s Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest! For the past four years, this newsletter has provided 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:

  • This year’s 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.

Donor privacy and disclosure legislation review, 2020-2023

In 2023, state legislators introduced 55 donor privacy and disclosure bills, fewer than at this point last year but more than in 2020 or 2021. The 55 bills introduced this year represent a 29% decrease from the 77 bills introduced last year. In 2021, legislators introduced 50 bills, and in 2020, they introduced 53. 

The percentage of Democratic and Republican-sponsored bills increased since last year, with the percentage of bipartisan legislation decreasing. Democrats have sponsored 26 (47%) of the bills introduced in 2023, compared to 31 (40%) in 2022, 21 (42%) in 2021, and 23 (43%) in 2020. Republicans sponsored 22 (40%) bills this year, 24 (31%) last year, 18 (36%) in 2021, and 16 (30%) in 2020. Legislators introduced four (7%) pieces of bipartisan legislation this year and 11 (14%) last year. Four (8%) bipartisan bills were introduced in 2021, and eight (15%) 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 (29%) bills this year and 19 (25%) last year. States with Republican trifectas have introduced 25 (44%) bills compared to 30 (39%) bills in 2022. Divided governments have introduced 14 (25%) bills this year, down from 28 (36%) bills last year. 

States have enacted more legislation this year than in previous years. A total of 14 (25%) bills have become law so far in 2023, compared to eight (10%) in 2022, nine (18%) in 2021, and four (8%) in 2020. More Republican-sponsored bills were approved in 2023 (eight) than in other years. Republicans sponsored two of the bills enacted in 2022 and three in both 2020 and 2021. Three Democratic-sponsored bills were approved in 2021 and 2023, and one bill was approved in both 2020 and 2022. 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 have enacted two bills, the same number as last year. States with Republican trifectas enacted eight bills this year compared to four bills in 2022. 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 40 (74%) focused on disclosure. In 2022, 18 (23%) bills were centered on privacy, while 59 (77%) were concerned with disclosure. 

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

In the courts

Plaintiffs file request in lawsuit challenging Arizona’s Proposition 211

On Nov. 7, attorneys for two groups suing the state of Arizona over Proposition 211 filed a motion asking the judge to exempt the groups from the law’s requirements. The measure requires individuals 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 people or businesses who earned the money being spent). Voters approved the measure 72-28% on Nov. 8, 2022. Supporters, such as the Voters Right to Know PAC, said the law was necessary because “[u]nder current Arizona law, a few dark money power brokers get special treatment, the rules that all the rest of us must follow don’t apply to them. These well-funded organizations and individuals exert a major influence in elections by spending money on advertisements and promotions supporting their candidate or ballot proposition.” 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.” 

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott McCoy dismissed the suit in June. However, McCoy said the plaintiffs could file an amended complaint based on the law’s application that showed a “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 represented the plaintiffs in the case, said, “The evidence of past threats, harassment, and reprisals supports plaintiffs’ claims that Prop 211, as applied to them, will inhibit plaintiffs’ future speech related to public policy issues.” In the latest court filing, Freeman submitted affidavits from donors who said disclosing their identities could expose them to harassment or intimidation. One said disclosure would lead to “a reasonable probability that me or my family will be subject to a serious risk of physical harm” and “other forms of harassment and retaliation.” No hearing date on the motion has been set.

State by state

Since Nov. 1, state legislatures have not acted on any donor privacy and disclosure bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re following.

States have approved more donor privacy and disclosure legislation this year than in the past three years, with the number of bills passed increasing yearly since 2020. 

The charts below show donor privacy and disclosure bills by state and bills by legislative status and 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: