LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – A free market, nonprofit group founded by the Koch brothers is challenging California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ threat to take its state tax-exempt status unless it discloses the identities of its donors.
Americans for Prosperity Foundation filed a complaint Dec. 9 against Harris in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Its lawsuit follows an earlier one filed by the Center for Competitive Politics over the summer.
AFP says Harris in 2013 demanded the names and addresses of its donors listed on its Schedule B filing, which it hadn’t previously been required to do when it annually renewed its registration each year since 2001.
“The Foundation resisted, but the Attorney General doubled down on her demand,” the complaint says.
“Matters reached a boil on October 29, 2014, when the Attorney General issued an ultimatum: unless the Foundation turned over its Schedule B for 2011 and 2012 within 30 days, she would revoke the Foundation’s state tax exemption, suspend the Foundation’s registration, and impose fines on the Foundation’s ‘directors, trustees, officers, and return preparers,’ for which these individuals would be ‘personally liable.’”
The AFP says it is devoted to the promotion of limited government and free markets. It was founded David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries.
The complaint says the AFP’s views are not “universally popular” and that it must protect its donors from retaliation.
“It has learned from experience that it must zealously guard the confidentiality of its donors to ensure their safety,” it says. “Grotesque threats have been leveled against known associates of the Foundation, ranging from threats to kill or maim, to threats to firebomb buildings.”
CCP’s case against Harris is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is determining if the lower court was wrong to deny a preliminary injunction.
AFP says Harris’ actions have violated the free speech rights of its donors.
Harold Barza of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is representing AFP.
From Legal Newsline: Reach editor John O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.