Federal Court Rebukes Atty Gen Kamala Harris on Donor Information Decision
– Wall Street Journal
Free Speech 1, Kamala Harris 0
A federal judge blocks an attempt to disclose conservative donors.
Kamala Harris has been a hero of the left’s campaign to use donor disclosure as a tool of political intimidation. Since 2013 the California Attorney General has been demanding that nonprofits provide unredacted donor names if they want to solicit donations in the state. On Thursday a federal court declared her disclosure requirement an unconstitutional burden on First Amendment rights.
Federal Judge Manuel Real granted a permanent injunction against Ms. Harris in a lawsuit brought by the Americans For Prosperity Foundation. The group, which is affiliated with free-market supporters Charles and David Koch, has argued that as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it should not be forced to supply the Attorney General with the organization’s IRS Form 990 Schedule B, which contains its donor names.
In his 12-page decision, Judge Real notes that while Attorney General Harris argued that she needed donor disclosure to identify lawbreaking like “self-dealing” or “improper loans,” that was a stretch. “[O]ver the course of trial, the Attorney General was hard pressed to find a single witness who could corroborate the necessity of Schedule B forms in conjunction with their office’s investigations,” the judge wrote.
Ms. Harris claimed the donor disclosure was only for internal purposes and not for public use or to precipitate any targeting of the donors, but the judge didn’t buy that either. Americans for Prosperity discovered 1,400 publicly available Schedule Bs on the Attorney General’s website. “[T]he Attorney General has systematically failed to maintain the confidentiality of Schedule B forms,” the court wrote, a fact that should be considered “of serious concern.”
The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” and Ms. Harris’s play for donor disclosure would have impermissibly burdened that freedom. During the trial, the judge heard evidence that donors and supporters of Americans for Prosperity have faced harassment and retaliation when their relationship to the group is made public.
The judge is an LBJ appointee who can recall when disclosure was used as a political weapon in the Jim Crow South. “[A]lthough the Attorney General correctly points out that such abuses are not as violent or pervasive as those encountered in NAACP v. Alabama or other cases from that era,” he wrote, “this Court is not prepared to wait until an AFP opponent carries out one of the numerous death threats made against its members.” Amen.”
…Continue reading more @ the Wall Street Journal
– The Comments section is especially interesting on this issue. /CJ
Federal Judge Manuel Real Hands down Big Loss for Kamala Harris
“Americans For Prosperity won a huge court victory in California Thursday against that state’s hard-left vindictive attorney general, Kamala Harris. Naturally, the national press is doing what it does when it doesn’t want to cover a story: letting the Politico cover it and then pretending that this suffices.
Harris demanded that AFP provides the section of its not-for-profit Federal Form 990 identifying its donors. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows, despite Harris’s lip service to confidentiality, that her motivation is to have the names leak out so that donors are subject to the kind of public intimidation to which those who supported the pro-traditional marriage Proposition 8 in California were subjected in 2008.
Judge Manuel L. Real in the California District Federal Court forcefully denied that demand (HT Powerline). Deceptive headlines at two of the state’s largest newspapers betrayed clear displeasure with the result.
The San Francisco Chronicle began Bob Egelko’s story with a sore-loser headline:
Koch-run foundation exempt from naming top donors, judge rules
Here is what Judge Real actually wrote:
… After conducting a full bench trial, this Court finds the Attorney General’s Schedule B disclosure requirement unconstitutional as-applied to AFP.
Judge Real didn’t say that AFP is exempt from Harris’s law. He ruled that it is protected by the Constitution, specifically a landmark 1958 Supreme Court ruling which protected donors to the NAACP from having their names disclosed to the State of Alabama. In that ruling, the Court recognized “the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations.”
Harris’s goal, again despite denials, is to breach that privacy. Judge Real noted that Harris’s office “has systematically failed to maintain the confidentiality” of such records. Egelko reported AFP’s assertion that “more than 1,400 filings by foundations were publicly available on Harris’ website.”The headline at the story by John Myers at Los Angeles Times was also deceptive:
Nonprofit backed by Koch brothers won’t have to reveal its donors to Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris
Even if Harris were conducting her office honorably, access to donor information would include any number of employees under her command. In this case, given her track record, the headline really should be: “Nonprofit backed by Koch brothers won’t have to reveal its donors to the vast national army of leftist thugs.
“Harris is “the first female, the first African-American, and the first Asian-American attorney general in California.”Her aim is to undo the kinds of protections which ultimately led to the civil-rights progress from which she is now benefitting. Her picture belongs by the word “ingrate” in the dictionary.”
…Continue reading @ NewsBusters.org
– More on California Senate Candidate Kamala Harris here.
Of note is the fact that Politico.com only allows comments from Facebook. Here is a discussion on Disqus comments being blocked at Politico.
– The real question is why is this story about candidate Kamala Harris being ignored in the middle of a California Senate Primary? This decision and legal rebuke goes to her policies and ultimately to character. /CJ