New blog keeps eye on state-level abuses of charities, foundations, churches 

Mark Fitzgibbons, an Examiner oped contributor and president for corporate and legal affairs of  American Target Advertising, Inc., has launched an important new blog, CharityRegulatorWatch.com, that is a rarity on the Right side of the Blogosphere.

Fitzgibbons is focusing on abuses and potential abuses by state regulators entrusted with overseeing charities, non-profits, and other philanthropic organizations. While the IRS has tremendous power in this field and has not infrequently gone off in terrible regulatory directions, state governments also have great power.

Fitsgibbon points to a new proposal from the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) known as the Protection of Charitable Assets Act (POCAA).

Fitzgibbon explains the problem with this proposal:

"The Protection of Charitable Assets Act (POCAA) would create yet another registration requirement for nonprofits. It’s more paperwork going into a bureaucratic black hole that won’t help protect donors, will add costs for nonprofits, and will create more taxpayer-funded bureaucracy.

"If that’s not bad enough, POCAA is ripe for abuse by state regulators. It would allow them to target unpopular nonprofits for investigations that don’t comply with the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Charity regulators will be able to snoop into the affairs of nonprofits and religious organizations without the procedural protections of warrants issued after oath and affirmation, and only upon probable cause.

"POCAA has First Amendment problems because charity regulators, not known for their constitutional compliance, can target critics of government. Also, POCAA seems to have major church-state separation issues."

For more from Fitzgibbon on POCAA and other issues in the philanthropic field, go here.

Aside from the good work to be done in exposing such problems, Fitzgibbons' new blog is noteworthy for its focus on state-level abuses. Conservatives rightly put great emphasis on the importance of the checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution between the federal and state governments, especially as defined by the 10th Amendment.

But conservatives should never forget that state and local government officials are no more immune than those at the federal level from the temptations to self-aggrandizement, political and financial corruption, and abuses of official privilege.

It's good to see a conservative initiative aimed at watchdogging state officials in a key area of First Amendment freedom. 

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Mark Tapscott

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