Washington Post Misfires in Attack on ACE Act’s Privacy Protections

July 26, 2023 | Heather Lauer

The Washington Post Editorial Board recently described the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act as a “partisan power grab” by House Republicans. Yet the editorial takes aim at provisions of the bill that limit government power and safeguard privacy and free speech.

Consider the provision banning federal agencies from demanding or disclosing nonprofits’ donor lists. This proposal, the Speech Privacy Act of 2023, follows 17 successful state efforts to pass similar protections, with frequent bipartisan support. These bills have been sponsored by a Democratic lawmaker (Alabama), signed by a Democratic governor (Kansas), and have even passed unanimously in a Democratic-controlled chamber (Virginia Senate). State chapters of the ACLU, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood have supported stronger privacy protections for nonprofit donors.

These proposals appeal to all sides because they serve as a defense against power grabs by rogue agencies and officials. Every American that cares about freedom of speech should fear a world where the government can target a group’s donors and members to make it stop speaking.

That is precisely the motive behind donor disclosure mandates for nonprofits, as Senate Leader Chuck Schumer infamously admitted when he said “the deterrent effect” of such measures “should not be underestimated.”

Similarly, the media should not underestimate the number of Americans – on both sides of the aisle – who oppose government efforts to “deter” constitutionally protected speech.