Bringing The World Home To You

© 2021 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics

Bill Preventing Disclosure Of Donor IDs Passes NC Senate

Illustration of hands giving money to the world.

The names of charitable donors to North Carolina-based nonprofits can't be disclosed publicly by the group without a donor's written permission under legislation approved Tuesday by the Senate.

The bill, backed by Republicans, also would make clear a donor's identifying information is not a public record when held by a government agency, and that a government worker who uses or discloses it could be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Sen. Norm Sanderson, a Pamlico County Republican and chief bill sponsor, said the measure is designed to protect the privacy of donors in light of efforts by attorneys general in other states to obtain donor information from nonprofits as part of a fraud investigation. Sanderson said he's worried the information could end up becoming public knowledge, and wants to prevent a similar situation in North Carolina.

With the legislation, "the state will have the ability to totally protect these lists from (going) into the wrong hands," he said.

The bill states the confidentiality rules wouldn't apply to campaign finance or electioneering disclosures, including electioneering communications. And a donor's action to block disclosure doesn't work when other state and federal law or a criminal investigation take precedence.

Democratic senators who spoke on the floor said they were still worried the measure could further conceal giving by big political donors to "dark money" nonprofit organizations. These groups are used by supporters of both parties and their candidates.

"Are we all exactly sure what the consequences of this bill will be?" asked Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Mecklenburg County Democrat and 2022 U.S. Senate candidate. "No, we're talking about tax law and people who are trying to purpose fully evade campaign law ... safe to say it's a very dark cloud."

The bill passed on a 28-21 party-line vote and now heads to the House for consideration.

More Stories