Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"GOP" non-profits

This is not end-of-our-democracy stuff. You might even see it as coming out and saying what we all know to be true but legally can't say. But I think it's just another example of both the arrogance and the flat-out dumbness of the present Republican Party.

As The Raw Story reported on Monday, the Republican National Committee's website listed a number of 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations as "GOP groups". I've been associated with a number of 501(c)(3)'s so it is no surprise to me that non-profits are legally able to lobby for causes but not for specific candidates or parties. As The Raw Story put it:
501(c)(3) law--referring to the provision in the Internal Revenue Code that designates organizations exempt from corporate and property taxation and makes donations tax deductible--strictly prohibits groups from endorsing candidates or political parties.

A nonprofit "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate at all in campaign activity for or against political candidates," the IRS law reads.

At least six "GOP groups" listed and linked on the Republican National Committee website are tax-exempt nonprofits. These include the American Enterprise Institute, American Values, Coalition for Urban Renewal, Frontiers of Freedom, the Heritage Foundation and the Leadership Institute.

If any of these groups self-identified as "Republican", they'd lose their tax-exempt status. So who was the doofus at the RNC website that screwed THIS one up? It has been changed now, of course, and again - this isn't a big deal (it's more a funny than anything else). But I think it is indicative either that the people in charge are totally inept or that they're convinced that they can do anything they want 'cuz they're in charge. Maybe it's both.


At 10:17 PM, Blogger Lex said...

Having done a fair bit of reporting on political involvement by tax-exempt organiztions from both the politics beat and the religion beat, I can tell you that the rules aren't always entirely clear-cut for some nonprofits. But for 501c3s (charities), the line is pretty bright and trouble pretty easy to avoid ... if that's what you really want to do.

I wonder, however, to what extent Abramoff funds or other dirty dollars have been laundered through nonprofits.


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