Citizen Privacy Protected in Missouri on One-Year Anniversary of AFPF v. Bonta

July 16, 2022 | PUFP Staff

On June 30, 2022, Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) signed House Bill 2400 into law, an omnibus bill that establishes the Personal Privacy Protection Act (PPPA). Under the PPPA, state agencies are generally forbidden from requiring nonprofit causes to report the private information of their members and supporters to the government. Additionally, safeguards are included to prohibit the public disclosure of nonprofit donor and member information already collected by certain state agencies. Representative Jered Taylor (R) introduced the standalone version of the PPPA in the House, and Senator Sandy Crawford (R) introduced the companion bill in the Senate. The passage of this law in Missouri marks the third victory for donor privacy in the states this year, following the passage of similar bills in Virginia and Kansas this spring.

“The Personal Privacy Protection Act protects the rights of all Missourians to privately donate to the causes they believe in and to come together in support of their shared beliefs – all without fear that their personal information will be disclosed to a public agency and used to harm or intimidate them. House Bill 2400 reaffirms the widely supported 2021 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) v. Bonta that all Americans have the right to privacy and freedom to associate,” said Heather Lauer, Executive Director of People United for Privacy.

House Bill 2400 received significant bipartisan support in both houses of the Missouri General Assembly. The final House vote on H.B. 2400 was 129-13; in the Senate, the final vote was 27-6. The standalone bill was supported at committee hearings by nonprofit causes across the spectrum, including People United for Privacy, Alliance Defending Freedom, ACLU of Missouri, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, CanaMO Solutions, Concerned Women for America of Missouri, Institute for Free Speech, and Philanthropy Roundtable. Over the course of the 2022 regular session, the Missouri General Assembly introduced over 2,300 bills, of which only 74 reached the Governor’s desk, including H.B. 2400.

Missouri lawmakers who supported the bill reasoned that it was necessary to protect people’s privacy to donate to causes they support. They also wanted to take a stand against forced disclosure laws, such as the California regulation that required nonprofits to publish their donors to the state attorney general that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in AFPF v. Bonta last year. “Donor privacy is an important issue that we have been working to protect for several years,” said Representative Taylor. “Donors to 501(c) organizations in Missouri can now exercise their First Amendment right without fear of a government official releasing their personal information. It’s a huge step to protect Missourians, and I’m glad I was part of the team who got it done.”

The ACLU of Missouri’s Jeff Smith applauded the measure’s passage as well. “At this time when Americans’ freedoms and basic privacy are gravely threatened, I appreciate Representative Taylor and Senator Crawford coming forward to help ensure that the identifies of nonprofit donors remain private. It was a pleasure to work with allies from across the political spectrum on this important legislation. I hope these partnerships prove durable in coming legislative sessions so that we can continue uniting to protect Missourian’s privacy,” Smith said.

Ryan Johnson of Exemplar Public Affairs echoed Smith’s comments. “I am personally grateful to Governor Parson and members of the Missouri Legislature for prioritizing this commonsense policy to protect the privacy of people who donate to nonprofit organizations. These protections are essential in the era of cancel culture we are currently living in. The Governor’s signature is the culmination of a three-year long project and I am thankful to the entire team who worked together to deliver this result,” Johnson explained.

The passage of H.B. 2400 in Missouri brings the total number of states where citizen privacy protections have been signed into law to 13. All Missourians – regardless of their beliefs – will now be able to privately donate to the causes and nonprofits they support without their personal information being disclosed to the state and without fear of being targeted or harassed for their beliefs. People United for Privacy applauds Governor Parson, Representative Taylor, Senator Crawford, and members of the Missouri General Assembly for their leadership in protecting the First Amendment rights of all Missourians.