Is it safe for you to donate to MLFA?

By: Charles Swift, Attorney | Criminal Department Head

April 7, 2023


Dear MLFA Supporters,

Like most Muslim non-profits, MLFA depends on the Ramadan season to fund our legal work for justice. Our primary focus is the fight against the federal government’s use of religious profiling and discrimination, guilt by association, and the abusive use of the undercover program under the guise of national security. We do this through the representation of selected individuals in federal civil, criminal, and immigration proceedings.

Every time I have had the opportunity to speak to members of the Muslim community, I am reminded about how important this work is to the community. Almost every time I speak, I am also reminded that the Muslim community is concerned that donors to MLFA will be targeted for their support. Given the government policies we fight in court and given the clients we represent, that concern is understandable. However, this concern is also misplaced for three reasons.

8 copy (1)

First, MLFA’s work is absolutely protected by the 6th Amendment which guarantees the right to counsel. The Supreme Court has held that where the government interferes with the right counsel, they forfeit the case. The Supreme Court has further held that interference with funding for counsel constitutes a violation of the 6th Amendment. Because MLFA uses your donations to provide counsel, you are protected by the 6th Amendment and any retaliation against you would constitute a 6th Amendment violation.

The second protection is MLFA’s status as a recognized 501(c)3 public interest charity. Unlike other non- profit organizations, a 501(c)3 charity is not required to disclose its donors list to anyone other than the IRS. Since the 1970s, rigid barriers have been put in place to enforce this legal requirement. The only exception is that the IRS may disclose records to other parts of the federal government pursuant to a warrant issued by a federal court. The only recognized basis for such a warrant is that a non-profit and/or donor were using donations in a fraudulent manner. When it comes to MLFA, that is not going to happen because MLFA rigorously audits all expenditures to ensure that they are being used exclusively to support our constitutionally protected legal work. The bottom line is the law protects the identity of MLFA donors from disclosure to the FBI, Homeland Security, and other federal agency.

Finally, when it comes to national security, the source of liability for Muslim organizations are the laws which prohibit U.S. funds from being used to support foreign terrorist organizations overseas, and other prohibited foreign entities. MLFA and its donors are not at risk for prosecution under these laws because MLFA only represents U.S. persons. MLFA does not accept foreign donations, nor are any donations received by MLFA sent outside of the U.S.

Together these three protections mean that our donors are protected from liability and retaliation by the constitution, under federal statute, and our operating parameters making MLFA one of the safest organizations you could ever give to – and it has been that way for more than 20 years.

Please reach out to us to discuss should you have any further concerns.

Charles Swift, Attorney Criminal Department Head