SB 5991 – a bill to impose state monitoring of non-profit charities
SB 5991, called the DISCLOSE Act, would, for the first time, impose state monitoring of certain activities by non-profit charity organizations. The bill seeks to expand state power over political speech and civic engagement by requiring certain non-profit groups to report to the government sensitive personal information about their donors. A state agency, the Public Disclosure Commission, would then post this personal information on the internet.
Background – imposing new regulations on independent non-profit groups
Some lawmakers in Olympia want to expand state power by making certain independent non-profit organizations report personal information about their donors to a state-run online database.
If deemed by the state to be engaged in expressing political views, non-profit organizations would be required to file regular reports with the state PDC that provide personal identifying information about their contributors.
The label of “incidental committee” and the reporting requirement would be imposed regardless of the non-profit organization’s primary purpose. If certain conditions are met, the requirement would be imposed on charities, community groups, parent school-based groups, environmental protection advocates or any other charity or organization that falls under the bill’s definitions for expressing political views and civic engagement.
The requirement would be imposed on non-profit organizations deemed to have engaged in “incidental” political activity. The non-profit organization must report the ten largest contributions of at least $10,000 from a single source in a calendar year. In addition, all contributions of $100,000 or greater in a calendar year must be reported.
The new reporting requirement would apply only to private gifts made to private non-profits; no reporting on the use of public tax money would be involved.
The reports to the state must include specific, personal identifying information about each donor. This personal information would be made public.
The report must also include “any other information required by the PDC” based on its interpretation of state campaign finance laws.
The new regulations would be imposed on non-profit civic groups, like the ACLU, the YMCA, the PTA, parent clubs, environmental groups and local community groups that are labeled “incidental committees” under the legislation.
In the future, PDC staff could impose further requirements on non-profits organizations based on the expanded state authority created by the bill.