Albany, NY — The New York State Attorney General’s office is being asked to hand over the details behind its apparent leak of a national non-profit’s sensitive financial documents, according to Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests submitted recently by the Empire Center.
The FOIL requests seek information behind the leak of an unredacted list of donors to former Ambassador Nikki Haley’s non-profit organization, Stand for America, information deemed private by the federal and state government. The documents appear to have originated from OAG, as they are marked with the official stamp of the attorney general.
The FOIL requests, submitted on September 19, request records showing OAG’s document retention, storage, and destruction policies, as well as any reports of security breaches. The FOILs also requested the names of OAG employees with access to sensitive documents and a list of FOILs received by OAG relevant to the leaked data.
To date, the Empire Center FOIL requests have been met only with standard form letters confirming receipt and giving October 17 as a date to respond. A follow-up letter from the Empire Center’s legal counsel was sent to OAG encouraging a full response, without any further delay, on or before the October 17 date it has promised.
“Any move by the Attorney General to defer or further delay responding to this inquiry would reek of a coverup. On the surface, this looks like Albany politics at its worst. We hope the Attorney General’s response to our FOIL clears things up,” said Tim Hoefer, president and CEO of the Empire Center.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta that it was unconstitutional to require charities to disclose their donors, as it violated their First Amendment Rights. “A suitable outcome of this, so far singular, but unsettling event, would be for the Attorney General to direct the immediate destruction of any records in its possession that fall under Bonta, anything short of that would be an affront to taxpayers and a potential infringement on our first amendment rights,” Hoefer concluded.
The full submitted letter can be read here.
The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.