NEW YORK – A nonprofit conservative organization advocating for less government must disclose information about its major donors to New York's attorney general if it wants to solicit money in the state, a judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein said it appeared that Citizens United will not succeed in a lawsuit it brought on First Amendment grounds to try to block disclosures of the information to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, including names, addresses and the total contributions of major donors.
The judge noted that there is no evidence that Schneiderman's policy presents a risk that there will be public disclosure of major donor information. He said the group's "fears of public backlash and financial harm are speculative and fail to support their contention" that the requirement will chill donors' association with and contributions to charities.
Citizens United attorney Donald McGahn said the group was pleased the court made clear that Citizens United can solicit in New York, that its donors will remain confidential and that any effort to publicize them was thwarted.
"We look forward to presenting a more complete record to the court on the merits of our remaining claims, which will show that the New York attorney general is acting unconstitutionally and beyond his authority," McGahn said.
Schneiderman praised the ruling, saying it preserves tools necessary to ensure charitable funds are properly used.