Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Legislative Investigators Continue Investigating Executive Investigators Who Investigate Nonprofits

Improve your investigation skills | 2019-02-07 | ISHN

That fella Jim Jordan kicks off another investigation nearly every week, he really does.  I don't see how he ever would have had the time to serve as Speaker with all the investigating he does.  But . . .  well, the Democrats do the same thing, let's just be fair about it.  Anyway, we have previously blogged about the DC Attorney General's investigation into Leonard Leo affiliated nonprofits.  Back then, about 12 Republican AG's wrote letters decrying the further "weaponization" of executive branch offices in federal and state governments.  Now, Jordan, Chair of the House Judiciary, and James Comer, Chair of House Committee on Oversight and Accountability are joining in with their own investigation of the DC Attorney General's investigation.  Mother Jones -- the magazine, not my mother -- predicted that that Republicans would institute a new select committee to investigate the investigators.  The letter seems the latest proof of that.  Here is the opening paragraph:

The Committees on Judiciary and Oversight and Accountability are conducting oversight of the District of Columbia Office of Attorney General’s reported effort to investigate Leonard Leo and certain nonprofit organizations with which he is affiliated. Given prior attempts by state attorneys general to target conservative nonprofits and their donors—and your apparent political motivations for investigating Mr. Leo—the Committees are concerned about potential infringement on free association and donor privacy. To ensure that these vital constitutional protections are being respected, the Committees are seeking additional information about your efforts and would appreciate your full cooperation with our inquiry.

The letter goes on to ask whether the Attorney General doesn't have something better to do, what with all the juvenile crime in DC.  It refers specifically to what the authors call an unsubstantiated complaint by the Campaign for Accountability demanding an investigation a few months back.  We reported on that too some time ago.  And then it asks for the AG's entire investigative file.  Here is a little more from the letter:

On March 1, 2023, Politico published an article accusing Mr. Leo of benefitting financially from the conservative nonprofits with which he is affiliated.3 Three weeks later, Campaign for Accountability—a progressive “watchdog” organization with ties to liberal dark money—filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), asking the agency to investigate these nonprofit organizations. The complaint alleged, without evidence, that Mr. Leo received excessive payments for consulting and other services from the several conservative nonprofit groups.

Even Politico conceded that the complaint offered nothing more than speculation to support its accusations.6 In a press release announcing the complaint, the Campaign for Accountability also called on your office to “pursue any appropriate enforcement actions.” Within months, the District of Columbia Office of Attorney General reportedly commenced its own investigation into Mr. Leo and several nonprofit organizations.

The Committees are concerned that your office’s investigation may be improper and politically motivated. First, it appears that your office does not have jurisdiction over this matter because Mr. Leo and the organizations with which he is affiliated are, according to publicly available information, based outside of Washington, D.C. Worse yet, the Committees are troubled that your investigation could infringe upon the fundamental rights of donor privacy and free association. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the associational and privacy rights of donors—including the right of Americans to donate anonymously—especially when these rights are threatened by attorneys general who target nonprofit organizations for political reasons.

Click subscribe to receive once daily Nonprofit Law Professor email updates.

 

darryll k. jones

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/nonprofit/2023/10/gop-committee-chairs-launch-inquiry-into-dc-attorney-generals-politically-motivated-investigation-of.html

| Permalink

Comments

This question of how State AGs can protect against the perception of political bias in their enforcement of the nonprofit sector is an important one. Today, the Washington Post reported that the VA AG is opening an investigation of "one of the nation's most prominent nonprofit organizations dedicated to ... pro-Palestinian causes." (https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/10/31/miyares-investigates-palestinian-group/). Whether the investigation finds misconduct or not, it seems to me that the timing of the investigation and the public announcement suggest an interest beyond protecting the integrity of the nonprofit sector.

Posted by: benjamin leff | Nov 1, 2023 9:22:10 AM

Post a comment