In a lengthy letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, The New York City Liberties Union (NYCLU) slammed an Ethics Reform bill Cuomo is expected to sign soon, arguing that it is unconstitutional, and would chill free speech of politically active nonprofits. It call on Cuomo to reject his own bill and veto it in its current form.
“While the intention of the bill is to bring transparency to ‘dark money’ in politics, it is overbroad — it would inhibit public interest activity that has nothing to do with electoral campaigns,” said NYCLU Legislative Director Robert Perry in a statement. “The clear if unintended consequences of this bill will be to unconstitutionally burden nonprofits as well as intimidate New Yorkers from supporting controversial causes like LGBT rights, abortion and climate change.”
For instance, the group says that nonprofit groups that spend more than $10,000 on any public policy communications would under the bill have to report the name and address of donors who give over $1,000.00
While the bill has some positive elements, such as measures designed to further regulate “Super PACs,” it establishes a “sweeping and complex regulatory scheme for organizations that conduct a wide range of public advocacy work – even work that doesn’t include lobbying — and also implicates nonprofits that work with or provide services to those organizations,” the group says.
For instance, charitable nonprofit foundations that give to lobbying efforts could be dissuaded from doing so under the new bill.
Good-government groups have also slammed the bill, which would likely require more disclosure of their own donors.
Cuomo’s office has argued that the bill would bring sunlight to lobbying efforts, and make sure nonprofits’ tax-exempt dollars are being spent in appropriate ways. Still some observers believe that the disclosure requirements are targeted at good-government groups, which often criticize lawmakers.
CLICK HERE to read the letter.
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