Can our 501(c)(3) public charity weigh in on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sotomayor for justice of the Supreme Court, or is that impermissible electioneering?
A public charity may participate and take a position in the confirmation process of a nominee for the Supreme Court. The selection of a Supreme Court justice is not an election, so the prohibition on a charity’s participation in an election for public office is not implicated. The IRS has ruled that, even though the advice and consent of the Senate does not require a new statute, the Senate’s action is legislative action, and advocating for or against the nomination for a Supreme Court justice (or any other federal judge) is considered “lobbying.” A public charity is permitted to lobby so long as lobbying does not constitute a substantial portion of its activities. (See Ready Reference Page: “Lobbying Rules Create Opportunity for Charities.”)
A 501(c)(3) private foundation would be making a taxable expenditure if it participated in such a lobbying effort.
Comments from our Readers
Thank you for the info. We actually called the IRS on this when several candidates were being considered and they read the rules and interpreted support for Sotomayor over another candidate as electioneering. After she was selected as the candidate, we issued a press release congratulating President OBAMA on the choice. -- D.C. via e-mail
June 16, 2009
Legal Issues in Volunteer Involvement:
Maximizing the Benefits, Minimizing the Risks
Pre-recorded Webinar -
This pre-recorded webinar discusses: risk management and the organization's liability for the acts of volunteers; legal responsibilities in screening and placing volunteers; liability for harm to volunteers; applicability of volunteer protection statutes and workers' compensation statutes; insurance coverage and indemnification issues; applicability of employment discrimination laws; and more. The session also discusses confidentiality, protection of intellectual property, volunteer contracts, and ways to minimize risk through training and supervision. Learn to balance the risk of possible problems against the risk of turning away valuable volunteer support.
Weekly question and answer
Notice of each full edition
and its free stories
Report on 501(c)(3) electioneering
What our readers say about Nonprofit Issues
Once again you've tackled a tricky question and explained it so we all can understand the issue.--M.V.
Thank you for your informative and keen advice on nonprofit matters. I believe it's a unique and concise place to get answers to this often wispy area called nonprofit. --R.T.
Have a question?
Other ways to
Talk to the Editor
Next Conference Call:
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Participate in this bi-monthly telephone seminar conference call and ask your questions directly to Editor Don Kramer.
Access the entire site
($9.95/24 hours, $17.95/3 months).
Full Day Program
A well-received full-day program that covers the current hottest topics in nonprofit law. Qualifies in Pennsylvania for Continuing Education credits.
Don is available for programs and speaking engagements ranging from a one-hour presentation to a full-day primer on nonprofit law. Contact us if you are interested in having him speak at your program.