Friday, August 15, 2008

Muzzling the watchdogs

marjorie says...

Sorry for the quick post last night...I generally am not a fan of simply pasting in comments, but was in a hurry. There are a couple of things you guys might read today if you're following the saga of the non-profits and the A.G.

First, you might want to check out SWOP's commentary, for this issue but also if you're curious about grassroots community organizing in general. All 501c3's in the state are affected by this case, even if they don't do similar issue advocacy. This has been acknowledged by the A.G., which you can read in Heath's article this morning. Then, CCP's Eli Il Yong Lee has a commentary in todays Journal, in which he characterizes that lawsuit as frivolous and says this is all about muzzling citizen watchdog groups.

For me, it still comes down to what its always come down to: When does a non-profit get to speak about an elected official? In this case, mailers were sent out in March, right after the legislative session ended and over two months before the primary. Looking forward to a special session, they pointed out campaign contributions, how the elected officials have voted, and urged folks to give them a call. If the A.G. says these were "political" acts related to elections, then he's opening up a big bag of interpretative worms. The "chilling" effect that the attorneys refer to has to do with the ultimate outcome if the AG is successful: the shutting down of non-profits. In other words, the muzzling of the watchdogs. And the ripple effects of that would permeate the entire non-profit sector.