Denver Donor Disclosures Elicit Resistance

Nonprofits sue city over donor disclosure requirements

Two groups are suing the City of Denver over an ordinance put in place in September concerning donation disclosure. The Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation, known as CUT, and the TABOR Committee contend that the new law violates the First Amendment.

“This is very much an attack on our free speech rights as a group,” TABOR Committee chairman Penn Pfiffner said. “I realize what the city says is we need to have transparency, but there are certain things our society has said are not transparent.”

Right now, the law is set to go into effect at the beginning of next year. It would require any nonprofit that spends $500 or more on any form of communication about a ballot issue within a one-year period before an election to disclose names, addresses and employers of donors depending on the amount of the contribution.

Pfiffner said that because the ordinance reaches back a year, donations collected from individuals that go toward overhead or other purposes will be implicated in the disclosure requirements, even if the donation did not go toward a specific initiative, a feature that he says makes a “bad law even worse.”

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the December 26, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.