On Friday, Eric Peterson, director of policy for the Pelican Institute, testified in favor of a rule change the IRS is considering regarding non-profits and free speech. If the rule change was implemented, supporters of most non-profit organizations would no longer have their personal information, such as their home address, collected by the IRS.

In his testimony, Eric noted that the IRS doesn’t need this information to fulfill its tax enforcement duties, arguing the collection of this information actually risks the personal data of millions of Americans being accidentally disclosed. Such information has often been purposefully or accidentally made public in the past and the risk of hacking has only increased in recent years. Once public, this data could then be used to intimidate and harass Louisianans who donate to causes they believe in.

Eric also highlighted Louisiana’s political climate, which he said makes the threat of disclosure even more dangerous. He cited several examples in Louisiana’s long history of politicians using their political power to reward supporters and punish their detractors.

As a recent example, he spoke about a Lafayette City Marshal who arrested the leader of the recall effort against him. The City Marshal even arrested a husband and wife who simply filed a public records request with his office.

“Given the kind of politics we have in Louisiana, why would anyone donate to an organization when it’s possible that those with political power would happily use that power to punish those who speak out against them?” Eric said in the testimony.

The Pelican Institute will continue to stand up for the right of every Louisianan and American to give to the causes they believe in without fear of political retaliation.

The Pelican Institute previously filed comments with the IRS about this rule change, which you can read here.

You can also click here to read Eric’s full testimony to the IRS.