Empire Center Files Donor Privacy Lawsuit

For those following the leak of confidential information from the New York attorney general’s office, this week brings big news from the Empire Center. As the organization’s President and CEO Tim Hoefer has written, nonprofits and their donors should be aware of the donor privacy concerns in New York.  

While the 2021 Supreme Court decision in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta compelled the state to stop collecting donor information from nonprofits, it did not force the state to appropriately address the information it had already collected. After confidential donor information was leaked to Politico, the Empire Center requested information from New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office on the state’s document retention and destruction policies. The AG’s office didn’t comply with the group’s Freedom of Information Law requests, subsequent appeals or formal demand letter demanding certification of relevant document destruction.  

Now, the Empire Center has taken the next step in protecting donor privacy by filing a lawsuit against the New York attorney general in conjunction with New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation (NYFRF). According to the group’s press statement, “Empire Center and NYFRF are asking the court to order the attorney general to destroy all Schedule Bs in her possession containing donor names and to stop her from collecting redacted Schedule Bs from charitable organizations in the future.” 

Philanthropy Roundtable continues to monitor this case and applauds efforts to ensure donor privacy is protected in every state.  

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