A Monroe County-based conservative group joined Senate Republicans in calling for the state ethics commission to revoke its decision to exempt an abortion rights group from disclosing political donors.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a Spencerport-based conservative group that opposes abortion, applied for an exemption with the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which would allow the group to keep the names of its political donors private. Although JCOPE had already granted an exemption to NARAL Pro-Choice NY, the commission tabled further requests until it could resolve questions about the application process.
Jason McGuire, who is executive director of the conservative group and also a Christian reverend, said in a statement Friday that all groups should be treated the same when applying for exemptions. If questions on JCOPE’s policy are outstanding, the group should revoke NARAL’s exemption until the procedures are firm, he argued.
“NYCF hopes that JCOPE will complete its review process promptly, and will render fair decisions on our application and the applications submitted by other groups,” McGuire said. “In the meantime, NYCF calls upon JCOPE to withdraw the exemption that it granted to NARAL Pro-Choice New York until such time as JCOPE has reviewed and finalized its application process. Every nonprofit organization that applies for an exemption from donor disclosure requirements should be evaluated using the same procedure and standards.”
McGuire’s comments came after Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, wrote a letter to JCOPE yesterday expressing similar concerns.
McGuire’s group and Senate Republicans strongly opposed the abortion component of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Agenda this session, which failed. NARAL Pro-Choice NY was a leading advocate for the legislation.
Tara Sweeney, spokeswoman for NARAL, said Friday Skelos’ letter should be read in the context of his political opposition to abortion.
“He is politicizing this JCOPE process the same way he politicized the issue of choice thouighout this legislative session,” Sweeney said.
She said the group submitted their request for an exemption along with their disclosure filings, pushing for the exemption because of the controversial nature of abortion. Pro-choice activists have often been subject to threats and violence.
“We applied for an exemption when we submitted our filings in accordance with the rules that JCOPE set forth,” she said. “Whether other organizations submitted the same time frame, I really don’t know. This seems to be a matter or timing. Otherwise, I feel like this is really a question for JCOPE.”