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Don’t let charity regulators get away with false statements in the registration process

I just completed my fundraising counsel registration for New Hampshire, which is one state that, to my knowledge, hasn’t tended to abuse its charitable solicitation law. Compared to other states, New Hampshire’s registration renewal process is less of a burden.

Each year, though, that office goes through the same Kabuki dance, and its registration renewal letter states, “If you wish to continue to do business in the State of New Hampshire . . .”

Each year I file my renewal with my traditional disclaimer, but I add a sentence stating that my agency does not do business in New Hampshire.

The charity regulator in New Hampshire is the Attorney General. As lawyers, the deputies and assistants to the Attorney General probably understand the rules about “jurisdiction” better than most nonprofit and other registrants.

“Doing business” in a state gives state courts jurisdiction over you. Government and even private government litigants should have the ability to sue those who do business in their states.

New Hampshire may continue the Kabuki dance claiming that my agency does business there, but I will continue to protect my agency by making a factually correct statement that my agency does not do business in that state.

The people in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office over the years have been fair and good people, not sneaks like some charity regulators. However, plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking to file suit often look for any basis for courts to assert jurisdiction, and abusive government officials do the same.

Nitpicky? You bet. But unfortunately the law sometimes gives effect to the old saying, “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

That’s the long way of recommending you don’t let misstatements by charity regulators go unchecked or uncorrected. You should demand that charity regulators make legally accurate statements of fact.

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