Donor Lists Unpopular
Some of former President Clinton's most ardent foes and supporters
have found something they can agree on: Requiring the financial
disclosure of donations to presidential libraries is a terrible
will you find such diverse groups as the Christian Coalition, the
American Civil Liberties Union and the Gun Owners of America so
united. They all fear that once you require one nonprofit entity
to list its financial donors, others eventually will have to do
efforts appear to have stalled the momentum that had built on Capitol
Hill for such disclosure.
government gets pretty clever about how it wants to extract information,
and, of course, it always has a good reason to intrude on the rights
of its citizens," said William J. Olson, legal co-counsel for
the Free Speech Coalition, an organization that works to protect
First Amendment rights. "Even if it involves someone who is
unpopular today, tomorrow it will be somebody else, and this dangerous
precedent will exist."
the Free Speech Coalition lawyer, said the opposition developed
"We didn't know about it until the scope of the bill was
expanded," Olson said. "So many bad ideas circulate on
Capitol Hill that it's impossible to keep track of them all."
said the Supreme Court has consistently ruled in favor of nonprofit
entities that want to keep donations private. He cited as an example
efforts in the South to obtain the names of contributors to the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
said Duncan's bill probably would not prompt lawsuits if it only
pertained to presidential libraries. But if the scope of the bill
is broadened to include organizations controlled by members of Congress
or connected to members of Congress, then lawsuits are assured.
can assure you," Olson said, "if it applies more broadly,
any number of groups who fully understand the danger of letting
the government's nose under this particular tent will not stand
idly by and let it happen."
This article was published on Saturday, July 7, 2001
Copyright © 2001, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission
of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.