FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK - In a letter sent today to the head of the Combined Federal Campaign, which administers charitable donations from federal and state employees to more than 2,000 non-profits, the American Civil Liberties Union said that it would reject $500,000 in contributions from private individuals rather than submit to a government "blacklist" policy.
"It is increasingly clear that the Patriot Act and the government's 'war on terror' are threatening the ability of America's non-profit charities to do their essential work," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a letter to campaign director Mara Patermaster. "By requiring non-profit charities to check their employees against a 'black list' in order to receive donations from the CFC, you are furthering a climate of fear and intimidation that undermines the health and well-being of this nation."
Romero said in the letter that legal advice his group had received indicates that they were not required to check employees against the list, and they would never have participated in the program if they thought otherwise. But after Patermaster said in a New York Times interview today that the ACLU could be excluded from the program for "violating the government's policy," the ACLU took decisive action.
"We will determine the best court for challenging the CFC restrictions in court," Romero said in the letter. "And, in this climate of fear and intimidation, we will act not only on our behalf, but on behalf of our nation's non-profits, to defend ourselves against John Ashcroft and a government that tramples on the Constitution in the name of national security."
The list of more than 2,000 charities includes 4-H, National Public Radio and the Alzheimer's Association, as well as other civil liberties and civil rights defenders. According to news reports, the campaign distributed $250 million to these groups last year. A complete list of the groups affected is online at: /node/37725
Romero noted that the CFC program is not a government-funded program, but one that channels private charitable donations from federal employees and military personnel to participating non-profits.
In a statement issued earlier today, Romero said, "The ACLU will not be intimidated. We will not compromise. We will never check any of our employees against a government list. And we absolutely will not accept any funding that undermines or threatens our principles or our mission."
Anthony Romero's statement is online at:
The ACLU letter to Mara Patermaster is online at: