Missouri Governor Signs Law to Protect Non-Profits from Sharing Private Information About Donors

People in Missouri who want to donate to controversial causes and maintain their privacy will be able to do so. The legislature passed a bill that protects private information for those who support charities and other non-profit organizations.

Governor Mike Parson signed the Personal Privacy Protection Act into law last Friday. Under the new measure, the government can’t force non-profits to disclose information about donors, and certain LLCs will be allowed to contribute to political candidates. From the Missouri Independent (emphasis added):

It also closes any records or lists in the possession of public agencies that contain the identity of supporters under Missouri’s open records law and under court rules. The provision goes into effect Aug. 28.

Violations could be met with lawsuits and a class B misdemeanor. Exceptions would be allowed for the Missouri Ethics Commission to subpoena the info during an investigation, and for it to be produced in litigation if a “compelling need” is demonstrated and the info won’t be disclosed outside of those named in the lawsuit.

The proposal had received support this legislative session from groups like the ACLU of Missouri, Americans for Prosperity, People United for Privacy — all of which have 501(c)(4) arms, an Internal Revenue designation that allows them to participate in political activity without having to disclose their donors.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year voted 6-3 to strike down a California law that required non-profits to turn over private information for top donors. The court contended that the law was not narrowly tailored to the state’s interest in investigating charitable misconduct.

“Every American should be free to peacefully support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Zack Pruitt said. “HB 2400 includes an important step in ensuring privacy protections for all Missourians, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta, which affirmed that the First Amendment’s promise of ‘free association’ includes the right to privacy in financial giving. Everyone deserves a voice, not merely those able to weather abuse. We commend Gov. Parson and the Missouri legislators who took a stand for the ability of individuals to privately support charities and other nonprofit organizations of their choice without unnecessary government interference.”

Photo credit: GPA Photo Archive (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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