NY Ethics Panel: Only NARAL Exempted From Disclosing Donors

By Barbara Hollingsworth | August 7, 2013 | 3:12 PM EDT


Then gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo with NARAL Pro-Choice New York president Kelli Conlin in 2011 after receiving the group's endorsement. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) exempted NARAL Pro-Choice New York from new rules requiring non-profit groups to disclose the names of donors who contribute more than $5,000.

But JCOPE refused to grant a similar exemption to New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), a pro-life group.

On Friday, NYCF challenged the Democrat-dominated JCOPE’s decision  to treat the two non-profits differently.

“NCYF took a leadership role in opposing the legalization of same-sex ‘marriage’ and continues to take a lead role in promoting pro-life policies in New York,” Rev. Jason McGuire, the group’s executive director, said in a July 11 letter to the commission. (See NYCF July 11 letter.pdf)

“NYCF’s work involves ‘areas of public concern that create a substantial likelihood that disclosure of our ‘large donors’ will cause harm, threats, harassment or reprisals’ to said large donors.”

"Every nonprofit organization that applies for an exemption from donor disclosure requirements should be evaluated using the same procedure and standards," McGuire, a non-denominational evangelical minister, said in a statement releasing NYCF’s letter to the commission.

McGuire told CNSNews.com that unlike NYCF, NARAL refuses to release a copy of its letter to commissioners listing the criteria it cited to gain the exemption. He added that his donors’ identities should also be protected because the 31-year-old evangelical pro-life group is “no stranger to threats and reprisals,” including death threats phoned in to his office.

NARAL was the only non-profit excused from disclosing its largest donors. Family Planning Advocates, which is affiliated with Planned Parenthood, was not granted an exemption either, he said.

JCOPE recently announced that it will not take action on any new requests for exemptions from its donor disclosure rule until it has reviewed its application process. The panel is not expected to meet again until September.

“I’ve talked to some of our donors, and they are concerned about the dollar limit for fear of reprisals,” McGuire told CNSNews.com. “Making donors reticent to give is a means of closing down an organization.’

JCOPE is dominated by Democrats loyal to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom NARAL Pro-Choice New York endorsed in his run for governor in 2010.

“NARAL was a leading lobbying group that helped support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's women's rights agenda, which included a protection for late-term abortions….[and is] dominated by former Cuomo staffers and his appointees to the board, including the chairman,” according to the Associated Press, which also reported that “JCOPE Commissioner Ravi Batra, a Democratic legislative appointee, resigned a year ago partly because he said the board wasn't independent of the Democratic governor.”

Letizia Tagliafierro, a former Cuomo aide in the state attorney general’s office, is currently considered a front-runner to be the panel’s new executive director.

Last week, CNSNews.com reported that the attorney generals of both New York and California have been accused of violating the Internal Revenue Service Code by requiring non-profit groups to disclose the names of their large donors as a prerequisite for registering to solicit charitable donations within those states.