Nonprofits' Suit Opposes CFC Terrorist Watch List Policy

OMB Watch and 12 other nonprofits filed suit against the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) on Nov. 10, challenging their policy that requires participating charities to check their employees' names against government terrorist watch lists. The complaint, filed in the federal district court for the District of Columbia, charges the policy violates the First Amendment rights of participating charities and was made illegally in secret.

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OMB Watch Press Statement on Lawsuit Against the Combined Federal Campaign

Statement of Kay Guinane, Counsel and Manager of OMB Watch Nonprofit Advocacy Project, Nov. 10, 2004

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Comments Needed on Alternative Guidelines to Prevent Terrorist Financing

A group of charitable and philanthropic organizations has released a draft "Principles of International Charity" that can be used to prevent diversion of charitable funds to terrorists. Both domestic and international nonprofits are being asked to comment on the draft, which is an alternative to the Dept. of Treasury's November 2002 guidelines. OMB Watch and other groups have called on Treasury to withdraw their guidelines .

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Draft Guidelines for Nonprofits to Prevent Diversion of Funds to Terrorists

Draft alternative to "Voluntary Best Practice Guidelines for Domestic Charities" published by Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control. You can submit comments to Kay Guinane online at http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/2431 or fax to 202/234-5150.

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Text of Memo from National Combined Federal Campaign Committee

Text of memo from National Combined Federal Campaign Committee to Mara Patermaster, CFC Director, re "Proposed Certification on Terrorist Lists" August 2003

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Letter to the Editor and Response Regarding Aug. 9 Article on New CFC Rules

To the Editor:

During my last few years on active duty service, I watched the number of charities registered with CFC [the Combined Federal Campaign] grow dramatically. And many of them sounded dubious. Yet we were encouraged to donate, even at our meager wages. This applied to federal civil service employees as well. However, I fully support the new CFC rule that charities have to certify that they don't support terrorism or organizations that do. It's already been proven in the national media that many benign-sounding charities were actually funding groups that continue terrorism worldwide. This has been forced on Corporate CEOs and was the same policy forced on South Africa. The policy is not misguided, but long overdue.

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Summary of Combined Federal Campaign Regulations

5 CFR Part 950- Solicitation of Federal Civilian and Uniformed Service Personnel for Contributions to Private Voluntary Organizations

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Terror Prevention and Nonprofits: CFC Policy Raises Concerns about Chilling Impact

The Director of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) announced July 31 that participating organizations have an affirmative obligation to check government terror watch lists in order to comply with a certification they are required to sign that they do not support terrorism. The statement prompted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to withdraw from the fund. In a letter to the CFC, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said, "that requirement is not clear from your certification and I am sure that most if not all of the 2,000 participating charities have a different practice and understanding of the CFC requirements." OMB Watch released a statement on August 6 calling on CFC to withdraw the certification requirement.

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Charities Urge CFC: Change Misguided Terror List Rule

STATEMENT OF OMB WATCH: August 6, 2004
OMB Watch joins coalition of nonprofits in urging the Combined Federal Campaign to alter its new policy interpretation, which requires nonprofits to screen employees according to government blacklists and erodes basic democratic principles. Full statement (.pdf)Coalition list and release.

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Treasury Dept. Hosts Dialog on Terrorist Financing and Charities

Related Developments
Senate Finance Committee leadership has written Treasury Secretary John Snow asking for details on their efforts to shut down sources of terrorist financing. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) asked for a response by May 17.

A federal court in California has ruled that the portion of the PATRIOT Act defining “expert advice or assistance” as a form of material support for terrorism is unconstitutionally overbroad. In Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft, C.D. CA, No. 03-6107 (ABC), 3/17/04, the court granted an injunction against enforcement of the provision. The Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) works for peaceful resolution of conflicts, and wished to provide assistance to the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, but both groups are on the government’s list of terrorist organizations. HLP can now provide advice on international law, the art of peacekeeping and negotiation and United Nations procedures.

On April 28, representatives of nonprofits and foundations met with Department of Treasury (Treasury) officials to voice their concern over the anti-terrorist funding guidelines. The representatives questioned the guidelines usefulness and spoke on its potential negative impact on legitimate charitable activities. Treasury Secretary John Snow told the group his department would listen carefully and try to incorporate nonprofit comments into the final guidelines.

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