The Importance of Protecting the Privacy of Non-Profit Donors

The IRS recently defended the privacy rights of non-profit organizations by declaring they would no longer collect the names and addresses of donors. Detractors of this new policy, mainly coming from the far-left, argue this will lead to an increase in foreign spending and so called ‘dark money’ in American politics. The Institute for Free Speech's Luke Wachob explains in The Hill why this complaint is not based in reality. 

First, nonprofits can accept money from foreign sources, but they are legally prohibited from using it to support the election or defeat of candidates. The ban also applies to broadcast ads that mention the name of a candidate in the time near an election.
Second, a donor name and address does not tell you whether it is a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Many Americans live abroad, and many people in the United States are not citizens or legal permanent residents.

One of the most important results of the new IRS policy is groups will no longer be targeted for their political beliefs or agenda, something conservatives say was commonplace during the Obama administration. 

The rule. . . should prevent the IRS and partisan state attorneys general from targeting conservative groups, Republicans say, such as the government scrutiny of tea party groups during the Obama era. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the move was a victory for free speech and a “straightforward, common-sense policy decision.”
“It’s particularly welcome news to those of us who are intently focused on defending the First Amendment, for those of us who raised concerns during the last administration about activist regulators punishing free speech and free association,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “The IRS will no longer pointlessly demand private contributor lists from whole categories of tax-exempt organizations.”

Unsurprisingly, since the decision was announced liberal outlets have painted the picture that this move favors conservative organizations in a disproportionate manner. CNN recently ran a piece insinuating this policy change only benefits the NRA and other conservative groups. This is flat out not true, and Charles Cooke at The National Review explains how the change benefits the majority of non-profits on both sides of the political spectrum.

The change applies to every single 501(c)(4) in America. CNN could just as easily — and just as misleadingly — have placed the story under the headline, “NAACP will no longer need to identify their donors to the IRS.” Or it could have mentioned, say, Planned Parenthood. Or SEIU. Or Everytown for Gun Safety. Or the Sierra Club. Or . . .

Regardless of how the media is portraying this important policy change, non-profit organizations finally have their privacy rights protected. American elections were always meant to defend against intimidation and discrimination against a set of political beliefs. Thankfully, the IRS moved our nation a step closer to that goal.