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Important Regulations On Political Activities


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From: http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=163395,00.html

 

 

The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501©(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

 

 

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501©(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

 

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

 

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or © have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

 

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

 

From:

http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163392,00.html

 

Lobbying

 

 

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501©(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501©(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

 

Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

 

An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

 

Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

 

Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation, i.e., lobbying, constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.

 

Under the substantial part test, an organization that conducts excessive lobbying in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. In addition, section 501©(3) organizations that lose their tax-exempt status due to excessive lobbying, other than churches and private foundations, are subject to an excise tax equal to five percent of their lobbying expenditures for the year in which they cease to qualify for exemption.

 

Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in the loss of tax-exempt status.

 

~~~

 

With the increased attention of an election-year, it is crucial that the nonprofit organizations attempting to push their issues to the forefront and mobilize public support remember the political activity boundaries the government has placed based on their tax-exempt status. On July 28, 2008, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an internal memorandum regarding the examination of cases involving allegations against 501©(3) organizations (commonly referred to as “charitable organizations”) for engaging in political campaign activity on the Internet. IRS agents will now consider factors such as the “number of ‘clicks’ or electronic proximity between an exempt organization and the site of a political message” in order to assure that a 501©(3) organization is in accordance with the federal requirement that it is not an action organization, meaning that it “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

 

All nonprofits can provide important information that voters need as they elect their representatives. A 501©(3) organization may not engage in partisan political activity. In other words, the organization cannot do anything that supports or opposes a candidate for office. 501©(3)s can, however, engage in a variety of nonpartisan election-related activities.

 

~~

 

Advocating during Election Season: Some Dos and Don’ts

All 501©(3) organizations can engage in advocacy generally – organizing communities, educating the public on your issues, and fighting for the rights of your communities. There are only two restrictions under federal tax law: lobbying is limited to a certain amount each year, and partisan electoral activity is prohibited entirely. If an activity is not lobbying and does not support or oppose a candidate for public office, chances are you can engage in that activity without any limits.

As you plan your activities for this fall, keep in mind that it’s election season. Although 501©(3) organizations can certainly engage in nonpartisan voter education and outreach, they must be careful to avoid activities that appear to support or oppose candidate or parties. The IRS prohibits what it calls “campaign intervention.”

This means that a 501©(3) should not endorse a candidate or tell people which candidates they prefer. It also means that a 501©(3) organization should not structure its activities in such a way that is designed to make a candidate look good or bad. A 501©(3) organization must be nonpartisan—it cannot help or hurt the chances for election of any particular candidate or group of candidates, regardless of political party affiliation. For instance, a 501©(3) could not campaign to get specific women or Latinos elected, even if they do not care whether the candidates are Republican, Democrat, or even if the election is non-partisan (no party affiliation).

A 501©(3)’s role during an election is educational, and to encourage civic participation. Although there is a lot you can do around and election, you need to stop short of telling people how to vote or for whom to vote.

This document provides some general guidelines to follow and answers some common questions. It does not provide legal advice and is not meant as a comprehensive look at all election-related activities.

If you have a specific question, you are welcome to contact Alliance for Justice for free technical assistance at advocacy@afj.org or 866-675-6229 (866-NP LOBBY).

 

Q: During the August recess, we are thinking about a range of activities that include in-district meetings with Member of Congress and State Legislators, drop-in visits, actions at in-district offices, and actions at town hall meetings. Given this spectrum of activities, how do we ensure that our issue advocacy does not cross over into prohibited campaign intervention?

A: “Issue advocacy” here refers to an organization communicating its views on issues of social or economic concern that are related to the organization’s charitable purposes. Advocacy might include educating or attempting to influence the public on the need for immigration reform. It could include persuading an elected official to take a specific action, like voting for or against proposed legislation (direct lobbying), or encouraging the public to ask elected officials to do so (grassroots lobbying).

 

* 501©(3) organizations often use the occasion of an election to get greater exposure for the issues they work on.

 

501©(3) organizations can and should engage in issue advocacy—even when election campaigns are occurring. However, issue advocacy crosses the line into prohibited campaign intervention when a communication not only addresses an issue but also tries to tell the audience how to vote on a specific candidate or group of candidates. When discussing issues, organizations should avoid comparing their own views with those of candidates, or mentioning where candidates stand on the issues important to the organization. IRS guidance makes clear that campaign intervention can occur even if the name of a candidate or political party is not mentioned. A 501©(3) should be especially careful when the issue it is speaking about is generally considered to be a high-profile issue on which the candidates in a specific election have diverging views and the issue has been used—either by the candidates, the media, or others—to highlight differences between the candidates. Healthcare and immigration reform, among others will likely be high profile campaign issues in many elections this fall, so 501©(3)s should be aware of how they talk about the issue in the electoral context, and take care not to compare the candidates’ views on these issues.

 

In connection with advocating on your issues, a 501©(3) may be happy or disappointed by a public statement, legislative vote, executive decision or other action of an elected public official. A 501©(3) may want to publicize its views by criticizing or praising an elected public official for her actions, regardless of whether or not the official is also a candidate in an upcoming election. It is important that a 501©(3)’s commentary not cross the line into prohibited campaign intervention. If a 501©(3) has a record of criticizing sitting office-holders, lobbying them and working to hold them accountable, it may continue those activities during an election year. However, close to an election, the IRS may view positive or negative comments about someone running for reelection as “intervention” in the campaign.

 

A 501©(3) organization’s track record of activity in non-election years is its best protection. For instance, if a group has been pressuring legislators to adopt its views on healthcare reform legislation, and the legislators vote against those recommendations, the group may keep on lobbying and calling public attention to how the officials voted, even during the election campaign, and even if the legislators are also candidates. But if the 501©(3) increases its level of criticism or devotes special attention to an legislator’s bad (or good) record, it may be found to have done so in order to intervene in an election in a prohibited partisan way. It is important to distinguish between a person’s role as legislator (or other elected official) and her role as a candidate.

 

 

Q: Which of our planned activities will count as lobbying?

A: All 501©(3) public charities are legally permitted to lobby, which involves trying to influence the passage of a law. Lobbying occurs when you are giving your viewpoint to legislators on pending or proposed legislation, or urging the public to do so.

 

When you meet with a state legislator or staffer to ask her to support specific legislative priorities, that is lobbying.

 

When you send an email out to your lists urging recipients to tell their Members of Congress or state legislators to support a specific legislative proposal, that is lobbying.

It is perfectly legal, but you should stay within your organization’s annual limits. Not all meetings with legislators or discussions about specific legislation will count as lobbying, though. It depends on what you are saying and to whom you are speaking.

 

 

When you meet with a legislator or staffer to introduce yourself and educate the legislator about your community, but you do not express a view about any legislation, that is NOT lobbying.

When you educate the public about the consequences of proposed legislation, but do not urge the public to contact their legislators about it, that is NOT lobbying.*

 

 

Q: How can a 501©(3) organization safely work with 501©(4) organizations or labor unions during election season?

A: A 501©(3) organization may work in coalitions and partnership with other organizations, including 501©(4) organizations and labor unions, as long as the joint activity is nonpartisan. However, a 501©(3) may not do anything indirectly through participation with other groups that it may not do on its own.

A 501©(3) may engage in voter education and registration with a 501©(4) or union so long as the activities are conducted in a strictly nonpartisan manner. All of the group’s joint written materials and oral communications must be nonpartisan. No partisan literature or communications may be distributed by any of the participating groups as part of the joint activity. In addition, the areas selected for conducting the activities must be determined using nonpartisan criteria. While participating 501©(4)s and unions may continue to engage in their own partisan activities, these must remain completely separate from their nonpartisan activities conducted jointly with a 501©(3).

A 501©(3) may not freely share the voter registration lists or other data it collects during these activities with partisan organizations, because this data was collected with 501©(3) resources. A 501©(3) may accept lists from 501©(4)s or unions to conduct its nonpartisan activities. There may not be, however, a requirement or understanding that the 501©(3) will use that information to further the partisan activities of the 501©(4) or union.

 

Q: Can we invite a legislator who is running for re-election to one of our events?

A: A 501©(3) may sponsor an appearance by a candidate or public official in some instances, but should proceed cautiously. The IRS will look at “all the facts and circumstances” to determine whether the organization is supporting or opposing a candidate. The initial question is whether the 501©(3) invited the person as a candidate or in some other capacity.

If the candidate were invited to appear as a candidate, the 501©(3) must take steps to ensure that it indicates no support of or opposition to the candidate at the event. No candidate or partisan fundraising should occur at the event, and all opposing candidates should be given an equal opportunity to participate, at either the same event or a comparable one. The IRS does not require that the opportunity be accepted by any of the other candidates, but the group should issue them a specific invitation to the same or comparable event. The IRS will evaluate whether an event was “comparable” based on all the facts and circumstances, including its time and place, expected audience, and attractiveness of venue. Note that federal election law may prohibit such an invitation in the case of federal candidates.

 

 

If the group invited the person in a capacity other than as a candidate, it does not have to invite the opposition, but it should document the reason for the invitation other than his or her candidacy and do everything it can to make sure that the event does not turn into a campaign appearance. This includes strictly avoiding any mention of the guest’s candidacy or the election in connection with the event. The group also should resist working with the candidate’s campaign staff on organizing the event because the campaign’s job is to turn the event into a campaigning opportunity for its candidate. It is a good idea to send a letter to the speaker, telling her of the organization’s inability to support or oppose candidates and the need to keep the event nonpartisan, and asking her not to mention her candidacy. The organization also should include a nonpartisan disclaimer on written materials and announce it during the event. If, despite the 501©(3)’s best efforts, the candidate does something unexpected to promote her election, or if the press interprets the event as a partisan one, then the IRS would likely not consider this to be the group’s fault. If, however, an invited candidate promotes an event as a candidate campaign event, the charity should consider cancelling the event.

* This definition applies to 501©(3) organizations that have made the 501(h) election to measure their lobbying. For more information about the definition of lobbying, contact Alliance for Justice

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Not to be a party pooper, but the web banners for candidates and some of the postings from MMMA board members may be in violation of the law regarding political activities prohibited by nonprofits.

 

Something to think about...

 

From: http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=163395,00.html

 

 

The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501©(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

 

 

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501©(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

 

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

 

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or © have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

 

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

 

From:

http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163392,00.html

 

Lobbying

 

 

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501©(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501©(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

 

Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

 

An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

 

Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

 

Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation, i.e., lobbying, constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.

 

Under the substantial part test, an organization that conducts excessive lobbying in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. In addition, section 501©(3) organizations that lose their tax-exempt status due to excessive lobbying, other than churches and private foundations, are subject to an excise tax equal to five percent of their lobbying expenditures for the year in which they cease to qualify for exemption.

 

Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in the loss of tax-exempt status.

 

~~~

 

With the increased attention of an election-year, it is crucial that the nonprofit organizations attempting to push their issues to the forefront and mobilize public support remember the political activity boundaries the government has placed based on their tax-exempt status. On July 28, 2008, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an internal memorandum regarding the examination of cases involving allegations against 501©(3) organizations (commonly referred to as “charitable organizations”) for engaging in political campaign activity on the Internet. IRS agents will now consider factors such as the “number of ‘clicks’ or electronic proximity between an exempt organization and the site of a political message” in order to assure that a 501©(3) organization is in accordance with the federal requirement that it is not an action organization, meaning that it “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

 

All nonprofits can provide important information that voters need as they elect their representatives. A 501©(3) organization may not engage in partisan political activity. In other words, the organization cannot do anything that supports or opposes a candidate for office. 501©(3)s can, however, engage in a variety of nonpartisan election-related activities.

 

~~

 

Advocating during Election Season: Some Dos and Don’ts

All 501©(3) organizations can engage in advocacy generally – organizing communities, educating the public on your issues, and fighting for the rights of your communities. There are only two restrictions under federal tax law: lobbying is limited to a certain amount each year, and partisan electoral activity is prohibited entirely. If an activity is not lobbying and does not support or oppose a candidate for public office, chances are you can engage in that activity without any limits.

As you plan your activities for this fall, keep in mind that it’s election season. Although 501©(3) organizations can certainly engage in nonpartisan voter education and outreach, they must be careful to avoid activities that appear to support or oppose candidate or parties. The IRS prohibits what it calls “campaign intervention.”

This means that a 501©(3) should not endorse a candidate or tell people which candidates they prefer. It also means that a 501©(3) organization should not structure its activities in such a way that is designed to make a candidate look good or bad. A 501©(3) organization must be nonpartisan—it cannot help or hurt the chances for election of any particular candidate or group of candidates, regardless of political party affiliation. For instance, a 501©(3) could not campaign to get specific women or Latinos elected, even if they do not care whether the candidates are Republican, Democrat, or even if the election is non-partisan (no party affiliation).

A 501©(3)’s role during an election is educational, and to encourage civic participation. Although there is a lot you can do around and election, you need to stop short of telling people how to vote or for whom to vote.

This document provides some general guidelines to follow and answers some common questions. It does not provide legal advice and is not meant as a comprehensive look at all election-related activities.

If you have a specific question, you are welcome to contact Alliance for Justice for free technical assistance at advocacy@afj.org or 866-675-6229 (866-NP LOBBY).

 

Q: During the August recess, we are thinking about a range of activities that include in-district meetings with Member of Congress and State Legislators, drop-in visits, actions at in-district offices, and actions at town hall meetings. Given this spectrum of activities, how do we ensure that our issue advocacy does not cross over into prohibited campaign intervention?

A: “Issue advocacy” here refers to an organization communicating its views on issues of social or economic concern that are related to the organization’s charitable purposes. Advocacy might include educating or attempting to influence the public on the need for immigration reform. It could include persuading an elected official to take a specific action, like voting for or against proposed legislation (direct lobbying), or encouraging the public to ask elected officials to do so (grassroots lobbying).

 

* 501©(3) organizations often use the occasion of an election to get greater exposure for the issues they work on.

 

501©(3) organizations can and should engage in issue advocacy—even when election campaigns are occurring. However, issue advocacy crosses the line into prohibited campaign intervention when a communication not only addresses an issue but also tries to tell the audience how to vote on a specific candidate or group of candidates. When discussing issues, organizations should avoid comparing their own views with those of candidates, or mentioning where candidates stand on the issues important to the organization. IRS guidance makes clear that campaign intervention can occur even if the name of a candidate or political party is not mentioned. A 501©(3) should be especially careful when the issue it is speaking about is generally considered to be a high-profile issue on which the candidates in a specific election have diverging views and the issue has been used—either by the candidates, the media, or others—to highlight differences between the candidates. Healthcare and immigration reform, among others will likely be high profile campaign issues in many elections this fall, so 501©(3)s should be aware of how they talk about the issue in the electoral context, and take care not to compare the candidates’ views on these issues.

 

In connection with advocating on your issues, a 501©(3) may be happy or disappointed by a public statement, legislative vote, executive decision or other action of an elected public official. A 501©(3) may want to publicize its views by criticizing or praising an elected public official for her actions, regardless of whether or not the official is also a candidate in an upcoming election. It is important that a 501©(3)’s commentary not cross the line into prohibited campaign intervention. If a 501©(3) has a record of criticizing sitting office-holders, lobbying them and working to hold them accountable, it may continue those activities during an election year. However, close to an election, the IRS may view positive or negative comments about someone running for reelection as “intervention” in the campaign.

 

A 501©(3) organization’s track record of activity in non-election years is its best protection. For instance, if a group has been pressuring legislators to adopt its views on healthcare reform legislation, and the legislators vote against those recommendations, the group may keep on lobbying and calling public attention to how the officials voted, even during the election campaign, and even if the legislators are also candidates. But if the 501©(3) increases its level of criticism or devotes special attention to an legislator’s bad (or good) record, it may be found to have done so in order to intervene in an election in a prohibited partisan way. It is important to distinguish between a person’s role as legislator (or other elected official) and her role as a candidate.

 

 

Q: Which of our planned activities will count as lobbying?

A: All 501©(3) public charities are legally permitted to lobby, which involves trying to influence the passage of a law. Lobbying occurs when you are giving your viewpoint to legislators on pending or proposed legislation, or urging the public to do so.

 

When you meet with a state legislator or staffer to ask her to support specific legislative priorities, that is lobbying.

 

When you send an email out to your lists urging recipients to tell their Members of Congress or state legislators to support a specific legislative proposal, that is lobbying.

It is perfectly legal, but you should stay within your organization’s annual limits. Not all meetings with legislators or discussions about specific legislation will count as lobbying, though. It depends on what you are saying and to whom you are speaking.

 

 

When you meet with a legislator or staffer to introduce yourself and educate the legislator about your community, but you do not express a view about any legislation, that is NOT lobbying.

When you educate the public about the consequences of proposed legislation, but do not urge the public to contact their legislators about it, that is NOT lobbying.*

 

 

Q: How can a 501©(3) organization safely work with 501©(4) organizations or labor unions during election season?

A: A 501©(3) organization may work in coalitions and partnership with other organizations, including 501©(4) organizations and labor unions, as long as the joint activity is nonpartisan. However, a 501©(3) may not do anything indirectly through participation with other groups that it may not do on its own.

A 501©(3) may engage in voter education and registration with a 501©(4) or union so long as the activities are conducted in a strictly nonpartisan manner. All of the group’s joint written materials and oral communications must be nonpartisan. No partisan literature or communications may be distributed by any of the participating groups as part of the joint activity. In addition, the areas selected for conducting the activities must be determined using nonpartisan criteria. While participating 501©(4)s and unions may continue to engage in their own partisan activities, these must remain completely separate from their nonpartisan activities conducted jointly with a 501©(3).

A 501©(3) may not freely share the voter registration lists or other data it collects during these activities with partisan organizations, because this data was collected with 501©(3) resources. A 501©(3) may accept lists from 501©(4)s or unions to conduct its nonpartisan activities. There may not be, however, a requirement or understanding that the 501©(3) will use that information to further the partisan activities of the 501©(4) or union.

 

Q: Can we invite a legislator who is running for re-election to one of our events?

A: A 501©(3) may sponsor an appearance by a candidate or public official in some instances, but should proceed cautiously. The IRS will look at “all the facts and circumstances” to determine whether the organization is supporting or opposing a candidate. The initial question is whether the 501©(3) invited the person as a candidate or in some other capacity.

If the candidate were invited to appear as a candidate, the 501©(3) must take steps to ensure that it indicates no support of or opposition to the candidate at the event. No candidate or partisan fundraising should occur at the event, and all opposing candidates should be given an equal opportunity to participate, at either the same event or a comparable one. The IRS does not require that the opportunity be accepted by any of the other candidates, but the group should issue them a specific invitation to the same or comparable event. The IRS will evaluate whether an event was “comparable” based on all the facts and circumstances, including its time and place, expected audience, and attractiveness of venue. Note that federal election law may prohibit such an invitation in the case of federal candidates.

 

 

If the group invited the person in a capacity other than as a candidate, it does not have to invite the opposition, but it should document the reason for the invitation other than his or her candidacy and do everything it can to make sure that the event does not turn into a campaign appearance. This includes strictly avoiding any mention of the guest’s candidacy or the election in connection with the event. The group also should resist working with the candidate’s campaign staff on organizing the event because the campaign’s job is to turn the event into a campaigning opportunity for its candidate. It is a good idea to send a letter to the speaker, telling her of the organization’s inability to support or oppose candidates and the need to keep the event nonpartisan, and asking her not to mention her candidacy. The organization also should include a nonpartisan disclaimer on written materials and announce it during the event. If, despite the 501©(3)’s best efforts, the candidate does something unexpected to promote her election, or if the press interprets the event as a partisan one, then the IRS would likely not consider this to be the group’s fault. If, however, an invited candidate promotes an event as a candidate campaign event, the charity should consider cancelling the event.

* This definition applies to 501©(3) organizations that have made the 501(h) election to measure their lobbying. For more information about the definition of lobbying, contact Alliance for Justice

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