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Conservative Group Sues Calif. AG Over Donor Info Demands

By    |   Thursday, 11 Dec 2014 09:22 PM

Conservative group Americans for Prosperity is suing California Attorney General Kamala Harris after she demanded the names and addresses of the group's donors.

Harris, according to the Courthouse News Service, has asked that the group release the information or lose its nonprofit status.

Americans for Prosperity is based in Virginia but operates in California under a separate registration.

The group said its views "are not universally popular," according to the report.

"Grotesque threats have been leveled against known associates of the foundation, ranging from threats to kill or maim to threats to firebomb buildings," the group said. "More mundane threats abound too, including boycotts, firings and public shaming, all of which are now demonstrated components of the playbook of the foundation's more extreme opponents.

"Disclosure of the foundation's donors thus poses a grave risk to these individuals' ability to continue expressing themselves robustly and freely. It is to alleviate such chilling that the First Amendment and federal statutes protect against the compelled disclosure of an advocacy organization's donors."

Harris told the group last year it must release the donor information from 2011 and 2012 because it did not do so in its 2011 nonprofit registration. When Americans for Prosperity pushed back, Harris eventually said in October that California could revoke its status as a nonprofit and levy fines against it if it did not comply within 30 days.

"Faced with these imminent sanctions and with the irreparable loss of First Amendment freedoms, the foundation is suing both to obtain a declaration that the Attorney General's demand is unlawful on its face and as applied to the Foundation, and to enjoin the Attorney General from enforcing her demand," Americans for Prosperity's complaint reads, according to the Courthouse News Service.

Americans for Prosperity said it has received threats, and once got an e-mail from a person who said he turned down a $500,000 offer to kill its founders, the Koch brothers.

"Faced with such bullying, current and potential donors are understandably afraid that having their identities disclosed will put them and their families at risk," the complaint reads.

"Dozens of potential donors, a number of whom live in California, have reluctantly refused to contribute to the foundation because they are too fearful of the reprisal they will face if their contribution becomes public knowledge, and current donors have indicated that they will cease their contributions if their names and addresses are revealed to the state of California."

The lawsuit follows the 2013 IRS scandal in which the organization singled out conservative nonprofit groups applying for tax-exempt status.

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Conservative group Americans for Prosperity is suing California Attorney General Kamala Harris after she demanded the names and addresses of the group's donors.
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Thursday, 11 Dec 2014 09:22 PM
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