18 June 2008

Update on California AB 624

In 2008, the California legislature began formal consideration of legislation (California AB 624). Under the guise of transparency and disclosure, this legislation would have, we believe, channeled foundation grantmaking to a limited, statutorily-prescribed group of charities. This legislation would have created winners and clear losers in the charitable community.

The legislation, which was never enacted into law, served as a direct threat to the philanthropic freedom of foundations and the charities they support. Now, even after a few of California’s leading foundations made unprecedented commitments of tens of millions of dollars, it remains unclear whether members of the California legislature will try to advance similar legislation.

At the behest of AB 624’s author, Assemblyman Joe Coto, AB 624 was pulled from Senate consideration in June 2008, after an agreement was reached between a coalition of California’s largest foundations and the author (download the press release below).

While the threat in California has subsided, we understand that legislators in other states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New York, have been contacted by the Greenlining Institute and may be preparing for legislation similar to AB 624.

Backgound information:

Press coverage:
The Latest Charity Shakedown” – Wall Steert Journal, November 5, 2008
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?” – San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 2008
Editorial: Sneaking Big Brother into California” – Examiner.com, Feb. 26, 2008
No Good Deed: A bad bill makes its way through the California legislature” – The Weekly Standard, Feb. 25, 2008, by Matthew Continetti
Relief Bill Asks Too Much” – The Press Enterprise, Feb. 24, 2008
The Color of Charity” – Wall Street Journal, Feb. 4, 2008
Asking Too Much” – Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2008, by David A. Lehrer and Joe R. Hicks
California Assembly Votes to Make Foundations Disclose Key Information on Diversity” – Chronicle of Philanthropy, Jan. 30, 2008, by Suzanne Perry