There is confusion amongst CDCs as to what type of information is required to be disclosed to the public. The following outline may help to clear up the confusion:
1. PUBLIC RECORDS ACT (Chpt 199, Florida Statutes)
Under Florida law "agencies" are required to allow any person the right to inspect "public records" (broadly defined to include documents, books, tapes, photos, etc., etc.). The term "agency" is defined to mean just about any state or county department, board, ect, etc. The definition of "agency" also includes private corporations that are "acting on behalf of any public agency". This last phrase is troubling. Court cases seem to limit the application of the phrase only to private corporations undertaking inherently governmental function (such auto tag agencies and private corporations administering prisons, etc.).
It has long been our position is that merely having a contract with local government does not make a nonprofit an "agency" under the Act. THE ATTORNEY FOR THE MIAMI HERALD, Robert Beatty, SEES IT DIFFERENTLY. He believes that any corporation that has a contract with the government is an "agency" and, therefore, subject to the Act. He strongly believes that all CDCs are agencies and must, therefore, allow the Miami Herald the unfettered right to inspect any and all records in their possession. We believe that he is flat wrong. Robert, however, has an interesting counterpoint to our argument. He says that the Miami Herald will aggressively litigate each and every time a CDC refuses to give the Herald access to requested documents (he says that the CDC would then have the opportunity to argue the finer points of the law before the judge). Here then, is my advice for CDCs (1) stay off the Herald's radar screen, and (2) avoid conflicts of interest and questionable transactions (so that you will have nothing to hide if your records are forced to be disclosed)
To view the Public Records Act CLICK HERE.
2. IRS REQUIRED DISCLOSURES FOR "PUBLIC CHARITIES"
The following documents must be provided to requesting individuals immediately (in the case of in-person requests) or within 30 days (in the case of written requests):
3. ADDITIONAL IRS REQUIRED DISCLOSURES
4. DISCLOSURES THAT MUST BE GIVEN TO "MEMBERS" (required by Florida's nonprofit corporation law)
617.1601 Corporate records.--
(1) A corporation shall keep as records minutes of all meetings of its members and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the members or board of directors without a meeting, and a record of all actions taken by a committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors on behalf of the corporation.
(2) A corporation shall maintain accurate accounting records.
(3) A corporation or its agent shall maintain a record of its members in a form that permits preparation of a list of the names and addresses of all members in alphabetical order by class of voting members.
(4) A corporation shall maintain its records in written form or in another form capable of conversion into written form within a reasonable time.
(5) A corporation shall keep a copy of the following records:
(a) Its articles or restated articles of incorporation and all amendments to them currently in effect.
(b) Its bylaws or restated bylaws and all amendments to them currently in effect.
(c) The minutes of all members' meetings and records of all action taken by members without a meeting for the past 3 years.
(d) Written communications to all members generally or all members of a class within the past 3 years, including the financial statements furnished for the past 3 years under s. 617.1605.
(e) A list of the names and business street, or home if there is no business street, addresses of its current directors and officers.
(f) Its most recent annual report delivered to the Department of State under s. 617.1622.
History.--s. 106, ch. 90-179; s. 69, ch. 93-281.