This is a fine way to kick off Kamala Harris' California Senate campaign! Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity is very, very offended that Attorney General Harris is enforcing laws that have been on the books in our fair state for years, so they're going to sue her for trouncing on their expensive free speech.
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles earlier this week against Harris, saying her office's demand for a list of the group's donors violates its 1st Amendment rights.
Under California law, charitable organizations are required to register with the state and submit copies of its public IRS filings, known as the Form 990.
Earlier this year, Harris's office warned the foundation that its registration was incomplete for 2011 and 2012 because the group did not include a "Schedule B," a list of names and addresses of every individual who gave more than $5,000 to the group during a given tax year. Such lists are also submitted to the IRS, but are kept confidential and not available to the public.
The foundation said they have been registered with the state since 2001 and had never before been asked for its list of donors.
"California's attorney general, for reasons known only to her, is nonetheless trying to compel disclosure of the confidential Schedule B by nonprofits around the state," the group said in its filing. The lawsuit was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
That was then. This is now. After the clusterf*ck in 2012, Californians became fed up with the soft enforcement of existing laws. There were calls for legislation requiring public disclosure by non-profits of all donors financing campaigns here in the state. There was even a ballot initiative putting that question before voters, but it didn't qualify for the 2014 ballot.
So Harris did what should have been done. She enforced existing laws on the books, which requires non-profits to disclose their donors to the state in a non-published attachment to their state filings. This has AfP scrambling for the courtroom, rather than being transparent about what they're doing.
Keep in mind, this filing can't be disclosed to the public, but they insist their First Amendment rights are being violated.
I'm having difficulty understanding how that's true, given that the First Amendment does not grant the right to unlimited anonymous speech. Even the Citizens United decision allowed that requiring disclosure did not infringe on First Amendment rights.
In any event, I can't think of a better gift to launch a campaign than a lawsuit against Harris by one of the most disliked organizations in the state. Thanks, Americans for Prosperity!