A major conservative fundraising company is demanding a House investigation into what it says is the Internal Revenue Service's "derelict" attitude toward "protecting the confidentiality of names and addresses of donors to nonprofit organizations."
In a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), American Target Advertising's president of corporate affairs, Mark Fitzgibbons, writes that the IRS has not enforced sections of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibit the release of private donor information to anyone outside the IRS.
The letter comes in response to an April 21st Federal District Court ruling in which Judge Manuel L. Real issued a permanent injunction barring California Attorney General Kamala Harris from obtaining the donor list of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity Foundation as part of the annual charitable registration process.
The group argued that disclosing the names and addresses of its major donors included on its Federal Schedule B form could expose them to threats and intimidation, as well as violating the group's First Amendment rights.
Harris is appealing the ruling.
Fitzgibbons told AMI Newswire the point of his letter is to spur hearings into what he sees as lax IRS enforcement donor privacy regulations as well as "whether there were willful violations of the tax code by [California Attorney General] Harris, and whether the tax code's criminal penalties should apply."
"Under the tax code and NAACP v. Alabama," Fitzgibbons said, "the issue is that state officials must not be allowed to bully organizations into providing this confidential [donor] information."
"The harm isn't just disclosure to the public," Fitzgibbons added, "but disclosure to state officials. Nor should each nonprofit be required to prove that its donors have been physically threatened."
On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee is taking up legislation from Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) that would do away with Schedule B forms entirely.
Roskam's bill, H.R. 5053, would bar the Treasury Secretary from requiring nonprofits to disclose "the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor to any organization described in section 501(c) of any amount of any contribution, grant, bequest, devise, or gift of money or property."