McGuigan in The Hill: Lawmakers Risk Harming U.S. Charities, Violating Americans’ Privacy Amid Investigations of Foreign Influence

In an op-ed recently published in The Hill entitled, “Lawmakers Risk Harming U.S. Charities, Violating Americans’ Privacy Amid Investigations of Foreign Influence,” Philanthropy Roundtable Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs Elizabeth McGuigan warns that potential policy changes in Congress to keep foreign nationals from interfering in U.S. elections through charitable giving could infringe on the constitutional right of Americans to give to charities anonymously.  

Below are excerpts from the article entitled “Lawmakers Risk Harming US Charities, Violating Americans’ Privacy Amid Investigations of Foreign Influence”:  

 “While Congress was out for August recess, members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent an open letter to nonprofits—entities considered tax-exempt by the IRS—requesting information on the ‘existing rules and regulations governing them and foreign sources of funding’ as well as ‘policy changes Congress should consider.’ 

While their concerns may be valid and these questions are important, especially given recent media reports detailing specific cases of abuse, lawmakers must be careful not to chill charitable giving by generous Americans that supports the most vulnerable in our communities. There may be a need for a policy scalpel, not a sledgehammer.   


As lawmakers consider ways to identify whether foreign nationals are abusing certain charitable avenues to advance political goals, their focus must remain on protecting the constitutional rights of Americans to free speech and free association. As the U.S. Supreme Court once again upheld in its 2021 decision Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, this includes the right to give to nonprofits anonymously.   


Forcing the disclosure of their names and personal information is an overly broad and potentially dangerous method of exposing a handful of bad actors abusing the nonprofit ecosystem for political purposes. If there is evidence of wrongdoing — that should be investigated and prosecuted under current law. The last thing Americans need—especially those who rely on the generosity and services of charitable organizations—is for government officials to inadvertently stifle charitable giving in a hunt for those doing wrong.” 

To read the complete article, please visit The Hill. 

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