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February 18, 2015

Koch-Backed Nonprofit Wins Stay on Revealing Contributors

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked California from compelling donor disclosure by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative advocacy group with close ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, Bloomberg writes. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real granted the group's request to prevent State Attorney General Kamala Harris from seeking the information pending a full ruling on the legality of her order.

The foundation sued Ms. Harris in December, arguing that revealing donors' identities would chill free speech and expose its funders to "grotesque threats" to their personal safety. The attorney general cited a California law requiring nonprofit groups to submit to the state copies of their federal Form 990s—which list donors contributing more than $5,000—and that her office would keep the information confidential.

The judge said California does not have a regulation preventing such disclosure and that an injunction would not harm the attorney general's office because it has not had Americans for Prosperity donor data for the past decade. The foundation is part of a Koch-linked network of politically active, mostly nonprofit groups that has announced plans to spend $889-million on the 2016 election campaign.