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Latest ethics bill could force charities to disclose donors

Most of the attention in the ethics bill introduced and passed overnight by state lawmakers this month had to do with independent expenditure committees, but other provisions in the law could also require nonprofit charities to publicly disclose their major donors for the first time.

For several years, state officials have required 501(c)4 nonprofit groups to disclose their major donors if they spend more than $50,000 lobbying the government. But the new law would require tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations — some of whom are closely affiliated with c4 groups — to name everyone who gave them more than $2,500 if they supported a c4.


Josh Oppenheimer and Mark Glaser, attorneys in the Albany office of Greenberg Traurig, caught the “notable” provisions for c3s in an alert sent last week to firm clients. The in-kind contribution defined in statute, they said, captures “staff, staff time, personnel, offices, office supplies, financial support . . . or any other resources” in excess of $2,500. The men also noted the bill clarified that membership dues to professional organizations should not be counted in this way.

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