INSTITUTE INDEX: Nonprofit 'donor privacy' bills would make politics less transparent

North Carolina state Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R) is one of the primary sponsors of a bill now moving through the state legislature that would bar stricter disclosure requirements for nonprofits involved in partisan politics. In her re-election campaign last year, Krawiec was supported by a political nonprofit that sent out mailers that lied about her opponent's stance on police reform; reporters traced its funding to a Virginia nonprofit that in turn was funded by other nonprofits whose donors were not disclosed. (Official state Senate portrait.)

Date on which Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law a bill barring state agencies and officials from implementing disclosure requirements on nonprofits that are "more stringent, restrictive, or expansive" than those already in force, and that prohibits state and local agencies from requiring, requesting, or disclosing information about a nonprofit's donors: 4/30/2021

Number of states that this year considered such measures, which democracy advocates point out apply not only to nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofits but also to those that engage in partisan political activity — 501(c)(4) "social welfare" groups like the National Rifle Association, 501(c)(5) labor organizations like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and 501(c)(6) groups like chambers of commerce: at least 10

Year in which the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — an influential nonprofit that brings conservative state lawmakers and business interests together to promote business-friendly model legislation — approved a "Resolution in Support of Nonprofit Donor Privacy" calling for such policies: 2016

Year in which ALEC offered a "toolkit" to help state lawmakers promote donor secrecy bills: 2017

Of the 10 states where legislatures have considered donor secrecy bills this session, number in the South: 4*

Year in which Mississippi passed a similar measure: 2019

Year in which such a bill was passed in West Virginia, where the Republican-controlled legislature is considering further restrictions on donor disclosure: 2020

Date on which the Republican-controlled Tennessee legislature passed a donor secrecy bill, which is now with Gov. Bill Lee (R): 5/3/2021

Date on which the Republican-controlled North Carolina Senate, on a party-line vote, passed such a bill, which opponents say would allow someone to spend big on state elections but hide their identity by passing the money through several nonprofits: 5/11/2021

Under current North Carolina law, layers of political now giving subject to disclosure, with the bill aiming to ensure that deeper layers of giving remain secret: 2**

Year in which a 501(c)(4) nonprofit called Citizens for a Better NC Senate sent mailers in a race that lied about the Democratic challenger's stance on police reform, with reporters tracing the funding for the mailers to a Virginia nonprofit that in turn was funded by other nonprofits: 2020

Percentage points by which that state Senate race was won by the incumbent Republican candidate, Joyce Krawiec, a commercial realtor who's one of the three primary sponsors of the donor secrecy bill, which now goes to the Republican-controlled state House for consideration: 6

* Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

** Independent expenditure-only PACs and groups that donate to IE-only PACs.

(Click on figure to go to source.)