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November 06, 2007 06:11 AM UTC

Catholic Church in Colo. fights "evil" in voting booth

  • 9 Comments
  • by: Danny the Red (hair)

http://www.politicsw…

Any attorneys out there who can tell me where the line is for political activities for 501(c)(3) entities. 

Comments

9 thoughts on “Catholic Church in Colo. fights “evil” in voting booth

      1. They are supposed to stay away from direct candidate and I&R endorsements.  See MLK, Jr. for an example of some really strong issues advocacy – including policy clashes, criticism of the government and its figures, et cetera.  You can go pretty far without crossing the line into violating the law.

        The controversy with Kerry in ’04 came really close to the line, though, IMHO.

    1. advocating.

      I think their litmus test on abortion when they do not have one for other issues is hypocritcal, but I do not have a general problem with the Catholic church or their attempt to put their morals into practice.

      1. The line that raised my eyebrows was contributing to the initiatives.  I’m assuming though that Catholics have they’re own 501c4 or similar org allowed to advocate positions on initiatives.

        The Catholic church can have their litmus test, IMO, since there are so many other litmus tests out there.  The ‘danger’, if you can call it that, is they have a large pulpit from which to preach.  However, they’re preaching to their choir

      2. The IRS sets out the rules in Publication 557.

        Tax exempt orgs are probibited from lobbying, which the IRS defines as the act of attempting to influence legislation.  In turn “influencing legislation” is defined by the IRS as:

        (A) any attempt to influence any legislation through an attempt to affect the opinions of the general public or any segment thereof, and

        (B) any attempt to influence any legislation through communication with any member or employee of a legislative body, or with any government official or employee who may participate in the formulation of the legislation.

        In classic government form, the IRS lists the following as EXCEPTIONS to “influencing legislation” are:

        (A) making available the results of nonpartisan analysis, study, or research;

        (B) providing of technical advice or assistance (where such advice would otherwise constitute the influencing of legislation) to a governmental body or to a committee or other subdivision thereof in response to a written request by such body or subdivision, as the case may be;

        (C) appearances before, or communications to, any legislative body with respect to a possible decision of such body which might affect the existence of the organization, its powers and duties, tax-exempt status, or the deduction of contributions to the organization;

        (D) communications between the organization and its bona fide members with respect to legislation or proposed legislation of direct interest to the organization and such members, other than communications described in paragraph (3); and

        (E) any communication with a governmental official or employee, other than –

        (i) a communication with a member or employee of a legislative body (where such communication would otherwise constitute the influencing of legislation), or
        (ii) a communication the principal purpose of which is to influence legislation.

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