Conservatives Worry about Center for American Progress Digging for Donors

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2010 5:33 PM

Conservatives Worry about Center for American Progress Digging for Donors

A number of staffers at conservative think tanks, including the State Policy Network and the Heritage Foundation have taken to Facebook to warn that the Center for American Progress is on the lookout for information about their donors. Their worry is that the progressive think tank is after donor information, although none of the stories bear that theory out so far. One staffer from Heritage posted the story of Heritage's corporate controller, Vern McHague.

The lefties must be on a campaign because two guys from Think Progress were here yesterday requesting our Form 990, which we’re required by law to provide. Schedule B lists don ors who contribute at levels of $5,000 or 2% of total revenue, whichever is greater. However, donor names are omitted for the public inspection version of 990, so maybe they’re hoping someone forgets to do that. The IRS, Senate Finance Committee and other special interests have also gestured that the names should be made public, so watch for that future battle.

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ThinkProgress has published fairly explosive reports on the funding of conservative groups and the sort of people who attend conservative fundraisers. Anyone can find out basic information about think tank spending and leader salaries from the public parts of 990s, but to get the donor info, you need leaks. According to Heritage spokesman Jim Weidman, whom I asked about McHague's comment, this research request was more innocuous -- just the most recent public 990.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.