SUPPORT SB 303: Protecting donor privacy
Senate Bill 303 safeguards the privacy of individuals who have supported nonprofits. The bill defines personal information as anything that would directly or indirectly reveal the identities of those who have supported a nonprofit through membership, volunteering, or donation. Public agencies would be prohibited from requiring a nonprofit to disclose personal information. Agencies would also be barred from publicly disclosing any personal information of a nonprofit that the agency may have in its possession. Also, current or potential contractors or grantees for a public agency must not be required to disclose to the agency information on what nonprofit organizations they may have supported. The bill provides certain exceptions, such as when a release of information is ruled necessary in a legal proceeding. It also provides for means of financial and injunctive relief for individuals alleging a violation of the bill.
Americans are experiencing a time of great political polarization where differing opinions are met with increased hostility. This can be particularly true against conservatives, whose traditional, American values are increasingly being deemed unacceptable by those who hold institutional power. Unfortunately, those with such power, including government officials themselves, have at times used it to target private citizens with whom they disagree.
Conservative donors have had their information leaked to the public through actions at both the federal and state levels. In 2013, for example, the IRS admitted to an information leak that revealed the personal information of donors to a group promoting a traditional definition of marriage. More recently, the New York Attorney General’s office allegedly leaked to the media a list of donors to Stand for America, a conservative nonprofit. In an age where politics is increasingly seen as personal and diversity of thought is not accepted by many on the left, information leaks like these can result in real danger. Conservative donors who have had their identities revealed to the public could very well be harassed at their homes, lose their jobs, and face threats against their life and the lives of their family.
Every American should have the right to donate to whatever organization they see fit. The United States is built on freedom of thought and the diversity of opinion. For government officials at any level to be involved in putting private citizens at risk due to their personal beliefs is outrageous. Particularly in this highly polarized age, people with views outside of the supposed “cultural norm” must be protected from those seeking to use government power to threaten and suppress. Indiana must be a state where no one is afraid to support the conservative causes they believe in, or any other cause for that matter, because Hoosiers respect diversity of opinion. Protecting donor privacy is a vital step to ensure that this is possible.
IFI supports SB 303.