The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena heard arguments Monday about whether Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a nonprofit backed by big GOP donors and brothers Charles and David Koch, should be forced to reveal its top donors in the Golden State.
The foundation sued the state of California in 2014 after then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris tried to force the group to reveal its donor list or lose the ability to raise money legally in the state.
The state appealed to the Ninth Circuit after a federal judge ruled in favor of Americans for Prosperity in 2016.
A report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal Monday said Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt had signed onto the court filing last year to support keeping the identities of the donors – especially to one of his biggest political backers – secret.
Laxalt and Republican attorneys general from Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin filed an amicus brief in January supporting the foundation’s right to keep its donors secret, the report said. They said the First Amendment “protects the right of charitable groups to choose not to disclose the names of their donors to state officials.”
The NAACP, Free Speech Defense and Education Fund and Electronic Privacy Information Center all filed similar briefs last year, according to the report.
The NAACP argued that California’s argument, if accepted, “would give the government unchecked power” to compile and publish databases of citizens’ affiliations with organizations.
A spokesman for Laxalt’s office said Friday that the nonpartisan National Association of Attorneys General had sent them a request to join the lawsuit.