(Vienna, Virginia) The Free Speech Coalition, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization based in Vienna, Virginia and dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of nonprofit organizations, issued the following statement about its opposition to misguided efforts by state charity regulators to implement a model state law now called the Protection of Charitable Assets Act:
"The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) has sent a letter of opposition, signed by 47 organizations, urging termination of the drafting process of this misguided, unconstitutional legislation currently called the Protection of Charitable Assets Act (the "Act").
"As word has leaked out about the proposed new, redundant regulation of nonprofit organizations with more than $5,000 per year income, they are becoming alarmed and are beginning to organize opposition to the new proposed model state law.
"Especially during this time of economic duress in the nonprofit world, new registration fees and additional reporting requirements, which the Act would implement, would further drain scarce nonprofit resources, depriving legitimate charitable programs of those funds. The Act would also add more bureaucracy for states to finance despite their already severe financial circumstances.
"The drafting committee relied on anecdotal reports from regulators, not testimony of the general public or nonprofits themselves, as there has been no professional analysis of the issues state regulators claim this Act would address. FSC asserts that existing laws are sufficient and already overly burdensome.
"The Act would harm many small and local charities. The Act also contains serious constitutional violations under the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments, and violations of the doctrines of separation of powers and checks and balances, that would harm all nonprofits, and are intolerable under any circumstances.
"FSC's opposition is also based in its experience dealing with state charity regulators who would administer the Act and have already demonstrated a propensity to overreach and abuse law-abiding nonprofits."
The FSC letter in opposition to the Act is available at http://www.freespeechcoalition.org/pdfs/OCAA_ltr_2-1-11.pdf.
The Uniform Law Conference Committee, whose members are appointed and are not elected officials, is responsible for drafting the Act (until recently called the Oversight of Charitable Assets Act). They have held two meetings in Chicago, and a third meeting is this weekend. A fourth, and presumably final, meeting is scheduled for July.