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How California charity regulators abuse and violate their investigation statute

The NonProfit Times reports on a California investigation into the foundation of a deceased celebrity.

The California investigation statute, beginning at California Government Code Section 11180, requires that subpoenas be issued “in a manner consistent with the California Constitution.”

Article I, Section 13 of the California Constitution replicates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and reads as follows:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable seizures and searches may not be violated; and a warrant may not issue except on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons and things to be seized.

A recent California subpoena I have seen was written by one deputy attorney general, who herself signed the affidavit supporting issuance of the subpoena.  In other words, she issued the subpoena to herself.  That’s like a police officer who wants to bust down your door signing his own search warrant.

The subpoena issued by this deputy attorney general lacked any statement showing probable cause.  That is just one problem with unilaterally issued subpoenas.  There is no third party requiring compliance with the California Constitution.

The California Attorney General’s office has been placed on notice that its investigations violate the controlling statute, yet it has contemptuously disregarded that notice.  Such violations of the investigation statute should therefore be deemed knowing and willful, which may bring sanctions under a federal statute, 18 U.S.C. 242.

So, if you are a charity that receives a demand for documents from the California Attorney General, demand in response that the AG comply with the law.  The California AG seems to think it is acceptable to violate the law to determine whether others have violated the law.

Worse, the California AG may not even be investigating whether any law has been broken, but is merely engaging in a fishing expedition or is using the color of law to harass and intimidate the charity.

 

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