On Tuesday, TPPF hosted its first debate at the Joe B. Hogsett Theater on the issue of freedom of association versus forced disclosure. The issue examines whether it is a right of the individual or for the overall public good that donations to “politically active” non-profit groups be publicly revealed. Paul Avelar, attorney with the Institute for Justice, argued that individual donors to non-profit organizations have the right to choose whether they want to disclose their donation to the public. On the other side, Chase Untermeyer, a member of the Texas Ethics Commission, argued that transparency measures are necessary so that the public can see who is funding a cause or message.
Just for fun, our audience participated in an informal poll. Before the debate, we asked the question:
Should donors to political non-profits be required to disclose [their donation] just as donors to candidates and elected officials are? Does the public’s right to know who is funding such groups outweigh the donors’ free speech right to anonymity?
The findings of our informal poll showed that 29 percent thought that donors should be disclosed, for the public good, while 70 percent thought that donor anonymity is paramount. While 1 percent of the audience – or 100 percent of the lawyers – penciled in “it depends…”
Even more interesting is that upon the conclusion of the debate, we asked the same question to the audience, again. This time our informal poll found that 23 percent felt donors should be disclosed while 77 percent believed that anonymity is paramount.
That’s a 6 percent swing in favor of free speech!
How would you answer our informal poll? Watch the livestream recording and let us know on twitter, @TPPF!