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Where Is New York Charity Regulator’s Budget?

I requested a copy of the New York charity regulator office’s operating budget.

The response I received is shocking.

First of all, the request for a simple budget was treated as a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. FOIL’s are used for documents held by public officials that aren’t otherwise made public. Why would a charity regulator office’s budget not be made available generally to the public?

Secondly, the FOIL officer, who’s an assistant attorney general, responded that no operating budget exists. Here’s what he wrote:

“Please be advised that the Office of the Attorney General has concluded a diligent search and has located no records that respond to your request. Please be further advised that an ‘[o]perating budget for the Charities Bureau’ does not exist.

“Thus, your FOIL is closed.”

This is quite a story. Charity regulators require that nonprofits make their information available to the public, but refuse to disclose information about their own operating budgets.

Charities are private entities. Charity regulators are public officials who work (theoretically) for the citizens.

What are they hiding? Are they breaking laws? Should there be a formal investigation and audit?

The FOIL response says the matter is closed. To the contrary, this story is just beginning.

The letter signed by Joshua Pepper, Assistant Attorney General (Records Access Officer) is available here.

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