SAN FRANCISCO – A federal judge approved the permanent
injunction request of the Thomas Moore Law Center against California
Attorney General Kamala Harris, putting an end to the official’s
campaign to obtain the donor list of the organization.
District Judge Manuel Real of the U.S. District Court for the
Central District of California enjoined the attorney general from
ordering the nonprofit legal-advocacy organization to provide her
with the list of donors. Prior to this ruling, Harris sought to make
this requirement a precondition before the TMLC can solicit donations
from the state. A team led by Kaufman Dolowich and Voluck San
Francisco partner Louie Castoria represented the organization. The
group also included associate attorney Marion Cruz and paralegal
The point of contention between TMLC and the attorney general
stemmed from the requirement to furnish the official with the
Schedule B of IRS Form 990. This document reveals the details on the
donors who have contributed approximately $5,000 or more to the
organization within a year. This condition raised alarms as the
document is not considered as part of the public records. However,
Harris insisted that the data would only be used for confidential
investigations and will not be shown to the public.
One of the most pressing concerns of the TMLC in sharing the donor
list is the safety of the individuals. The disclosure of their
identities could expose them to danger, especially given the nature
of the organization. TMLC is a nonprofit group that promotes and
advocates the traditional Christian religious values and principles.
“Free speech can be exercised without making a sound or writing
a word,” Castoria said of the organization’s insistence to
protect the privacy of their donors.
“Private donors who provide financial support for advocacy
organizations that share their views are exercising their First
Amendment rights,” he said. “Such donors’ identities should not
be subject to mandatory disclosure to state agencies when doing so
will likely expose them to harassment, boycott, or bodily harm.”
In their complaint, the organization explained that their
advocacies could threaten their safety, as these issues tend to be
sensitive topics among other members of the society. Among the main
issues of the group are "Restoring Family Values,"
"Defending National Security," "Defending the Sanctity
of Human Life" and "Confronting the Threat of Radical
The organization is classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Under
California laws, the group must file a copy of its IRS Form 990 with
the State Registry of Charitable Trusts. The documents include the
Schedule B. Hence, the registry has the list of donors of the TMLC
which include information such as the names and addresses of the
individuals who contributed more than $5,000 within the tax year. The
same documents are provided to the attorney general with the
exception of Schedule B.