NYS Ethics Commission denies pro-life group critical exemption; pro-choice group has better luck


Albany, NY – Earlier this year, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) rejected New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms’ application to protect its large donors from public disclosure.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), a statewide pro-life, pro-family organization that lobbies on behalf of the evangelical Christian community, had applied for an exemption from donor disclosure requirements because the organization’s activities involve areas of public concern, and because there is a substantial likelihood that its donors would experience harm, threats, or harassment if their identities were made public.

On April 4, 2014, JCOPE notified NYCF in writing that its application had been rejected.

Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, made the following comments:

“JCOPE’s recent letter is only the most recent episode in a long-running drama typified by secrecy, unfairness, and incompetence. Under the leadership of Chairman Daniel J. Horwitz, JCOPE took nearly a year to respond to our application for a donor disclosure exemption. During that time, JCOPE granted NARAL Pro-Choice New York a donor disclosure exemption from which NARAL continues to benefit. Following its decision on the NARAL application, JCOPE changed its regulations midstream, directed NYCF and other groups to re-submit our applications to conform to the new regulations, and reached a flawed decision following closed-door discussions. NYCF objects to the impossibility of JCOPE’s application requirements, as they make it necessary for nonprofit advocacy groups to show clear and convincing evidence of the consequences of a future act-namely, what would happen to our large donors if their identities were disclosed.”

“New Yorkers who wonder whether our concerns about donor reprisals are well-founded should look to the recent ouster of Brendan Eich from his position as CEO of Mozilla Corporation. Mr. Eich’s only offense was a $1,000 donation in 2008 in support of traditional marriage. If Mr. Eich can be forced to resign based on a $1,000 donation nearly six years ago, it is only reasonable to predict that donors at higher levels would experience similar consequences. While NYCF promotes transparency in government, we do not believe that New Yorkers should be punished for donating to causes that they believe in. Voters should be free to participate in government without fear of reprisals.”

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