no matter who does their soliciting. Second, the interpretation is consistent with the stated purpose of the Charities Act to "protect the citizens of this Commonwealth by requiring full public disclosure of the identity of persons who solicit contributions from the public, the purposes for which such contributions are solicited and the manner in which they are actually used . . ." 10 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 162.2 (Supp. 1993).
Plaintiffs then make the argument that, even when an organization otherwise excepted from the definition of "charitable organization" does its own soliciting, other "persons" benefit, such as the telephone company, postal service, etc. The difference is that those persons benefit from the use of their services, not from the solicitation itself. For example, the telephone company benefits from the use of the telephone, not from the solicitation, and happens to benefit only if the solicitation is done by telephone. Telcom, on the other hand, benefits directly from the solicitation, no matter how it is conducted.
We agree with plaintiffs' assertion that the court's interpretation of § 162.3 would remove the exception of a law enforcement organization from the definition of "charitable organization" whenever one employs a professional solicitor. We disagree, however, that such an interpretation is contrary to the clear legislative intent behind the Charities Act. The provision quoted above indicates that the legislature intended the Charities Act to be a vehicle for ensuring that private individuals know with whom they are dealing when there is a solicitation for a charitable donation, as well as how the donated funds will be used. We see no inconsistency between the stated intent and requiring disclosure by a hired representative of a law enforcement organization.
Plaintiffs' argument seems to be that, since law enforcement organizations are excepted from the definition of "charitable organization," it is incongruous to require registration and disclosure when they hire a professional solicitor. However, once a professional solicitor is hired by a law enforcement organization, the public is no longer being solicited by the organization itself; rather, they are being solicited by a person acting on the organization's behalf, and a portion of the donation will be used to pay for the solicitation. A requirement that they be informed of such is completely consistent with the stated purpose of the Charities Act.
Plaintiffs also argue that the court's interpretation ignores the fact that a solicitor's speech is inextricably intertwined with the speech of the charity. However, the quoted portion of Riley v. National Federation for the Blind of North Carolina, Inc., 487 U.S. 781, 101 L. Ed. 2d 669, 108 S. Ct. 2667 (1988), refers to the Supreme Court's holding that solicitation is protected speech. It does not say that a state may not require disclosure of the identity of the solicitor. That the charity may benefit from the relaying of its message in return for a portion of the fee collected by the solicitor does not change the fact that the solicitor benefits from relaying the message, that is, the solicitation.
Finally, plaintiffs argue that AAST did not lose its exemption from the definition of "charitable organization" by virtue of its registration as a charitable organization. This contention is addressed fully in the memorandum of June 17, 1993, and so will not be addressed at length here. We simply reiterate that both AAST and Telcom, in registering, agreed to be bound by the provisions of the Charities Act as a charitable organization and as a professional solicitor, respectively.
C. ALLEGED ERROR IN EQUAL PROTECTION ANALYSIS
In their brief, plaintiffs state, "In rejecting Plaintiffs' equal protection claim, the Court relies, in part, on the 'small potatoes exemption' of 10 P.S. Stat. [sic] § 162.6(a)(8). This was an error of law."
This was not an error of law. Plaintiffs' claim under the Equal Protection Clause was that excepting employees of charitable organizations from the definition of "professional solicitor" under § 162.3 was unfair to smaller charities which need to hire professional solicitors. We noted that, even when a charitable organization's own employees do the soliciting, the disclosure provisions of 10 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 162.13(b) apply. These provisions mirror the provisions of § 162.9(h) except, of course, the requirement of disclosure of the professional status of the solicitor. Thus, when a charitable organization's own employees solicit, they must still make the requisite disclosures, and so solicitations by both large and small are subject to the disclosure provisions, and neither is favored by the exemption.
Regarding the "small potatoes exemption," it allows smaller charities an exemption from having to register as a charitable organization. Plaintiffs now argue that the exemption applies only if the smaller charities do not hire a professional solicitor. If the charity is small, so that, following plaintiffs' logic, solicitation by the charity itself would be a burden, the Charities Act relieves it of the further burden of registration. If the charity compensates someone for the solicitation, either its own employees or an outside solicitor, it is relieved of the burden created by solicitation, and registration is required.
Such an interpretation is consistent with both the language and the expressed purpose of the Charities Act. The purpose of the Charities Act is to protect the public by forcing solicitors to disclose their identities. Obviously, the small potatoes exemption relieves smaller charities of some paperwork, but not their disclosure responsibilities. Once the small charity employs outside help for its solicitation, the nature of the solicitation changes. It is then, when there is potential for confusion or deception, that the purpose of the Charities Act is furthered most: the smaller charity must register, so that the Commonwealth is aware of the professional solicitor's activities and so that the disclosure requirements for professional solicitors become applicable. A small charity is not thereby unduly burdened, since it must register only when it has the capability of conducting a solicitation through a professional solicitor, and all charitable organizations, regardless of size, are subject to the same disclosure requirements.
In short, plaintiffs' argument that the Charities Act is unfair to smaller charities because it unduly burdens them is untenable. If they are so small that solicitation by members is a burden, they are relieved of the burden of registration. If they are able to procure outside help with solicitation, they are required to register, since the burden of solicitation is removed. Either way, all charities must disclose their identity and purpose, and no charity is treated unfairly because of its size.
For the foregoing reasons, the motion for reconsideration shall be denied. An appropriate order shall issue.
James F. McClure, Jr., United States District Judge
ORDER - August 31, 1993, Filed
August 31, 1993
For the reasons stated in the accompanying memorandum, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
The plaintiffs' motion (record document no. 31) for reconsideration of the memorandum and order of June 17, 1993, is denied.
James F. McClure, Jr., United States District Judge
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