States Sue Trump Administration Over Decision to Allow Donor Secrecy
New York and New Jersey are suing the Trump administration to find out what's behind its decision to stop requiring some tax-exempt groups to reveal their donors.
The federal lawsuit filed Monday seeks to force the IRS and Treasury Department to turn over documents related to the decision to change the rules. Last summer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the government would no longer require politically active nonprofits — including so-called "dark money" groups — to provide the agency with a confidential list of names and addresses of its largest donors every year.
"Good government" groups have criticized Mnuchin's decision in part because dark money nonprofits spend extraordinary sums to influence elections – $147 million during the 2018 campaign – and requiring donor disclosures to the IRS could help ensure illegal foreign contributions are not funneled into their coffers.
In October, Attorneys General Letitia James of New York and Gurbir Grewal of New Jersey, both Democrats, filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking documents about what led to the decision. Their lawsuit argues the government has all but ignored those requests.
"Not only was this policy change made without notice, the Treasury and the IRS are now refusing to comply with the law to release information about the rationale for these changes," James said. "No one is above the law — not even the federal government — and we will use every tool to ensure they comply with these regulations to provide transparency and accountability."
Is local journalism a public good worth saving?
If so, public funding could go a long way in addressing a decade-long trend of declining revenue that has forced local newspapers to cut staff, reduce coverage and sometimes close their doors.
An array of ambitious recommendations on how the federal government could save local papers are out this week from the Brookings Institution, one of Washington's best-regarded think tanks, which outlines the crisis facing the industry and why it matters to the health of American democracy.
House Democrats are continuing their push for stronger voting rights protections, releasing findings Thursday from a series of 2019 field hearings across the country on impediments to voting.
The 144-page report concludes that "the fundamental right to vote is under attack" and calls for congressional action.
But the report, prepared by the Democrats on a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over elections policy, does not include any of the views of minority Republicans, who said in a separate statement that they disagree with the Democrats' conclusions.
The usual practice in Congress is to include dissenting views in all committee reports, so the breakdown of that process is further evidence of Capitol Hill's ever more harshly partisan tone in general and its recent approach to voting rights in particular.