Cindy Walsh for Mayor of Baltimore
- Mayoral Election violations
Questionnaires from Community
- Education Questionnaire
- Baltimore Housing Questionnaire
- Emerging Youth Questionnaire
- Health Care policy for Baltimore
- Environmental Questionnaires
- Livable Baltimore questionnaire
- Labor Questionnnaire
- Ending Food Deserts Questionnaire
- Maryland Out of School Time Network
- LBGTQ Questionnaire
- Citizen Artist Baltimore Mayoral Forum on Arts & Culture Questionnaire
- Baltimore Transit Choices Questionnaire
- Baltimore Activating Solidarity Economies (BASE)
- Downtown Partnership Questionnaire
- The Northeast Baltimore Communities Of BelAir Edison Community Association (BECCA )and Frankford Improvement Association, Inc. (FIA)
- Streets and Transportation/Neighbood Questionnaire
- African American Tourism and business questionnaire
- Baltimore Sun Questionnaire
- City Paper Mayoral Questionnaire
- Baltimore Technology Com Questionnaire
- Baltimore Biker's Questionnair
- Homewood Friends Meeting Questionnaire
- Baltimore Historical Collaboration---Anthem Project
- Tubman City News Mayoral Questionnaire
- Maryland Public Policy Institute Questionnaire
- AFRO questionnaire
- WBAL Candidate's Survey
- Trans Pacific Pact (TPP)
- Progressive vs. Third Way Corporate Democrats
Financial Reform/Wall Street Fraud
- Federal Healthcare Reform
- Social Security and Entitlement Reform
- Federal Education Reform
- Government Schedules
State and Local Government
- Maryland Committee Actions
- Maryland and Baltimore Development Organizations
- Maryland State Department of Education
- Baltimore City School Board
Building Strong Media
Media with a Progressive Agenda (I'm still checking on that!)
- "Talk About It" Radio - WFBR 1590AM Baltimore
- Promethius Radio Project
- Clearing the Fog
- Democracy Now
- Black Agenda Radio
- World Truth. TV Your Alternative News Network.
- Daily Censured
- Bill Moyers Journal
- Center for Public Integrity
- Public Radio International
- Baltimore Brew
- Free Press
- Far Left/Socialist Media
- Media with a Third Way Agenda >
- Media with a Progressive Agenda (I'm still checking on that!) >
- Progressive Actions
- Maryland/Baltimore Voting Districts - your politicians and their votes
- Petitions, Complaints, and Freedom of Information Requests
- State of the Democratic Party
- Misc 2
- Misc 3
- Misc 4
- Standard of Review
WALSH FOR GOVERNOR - CANDIDATE INFORMATION AND PLATFORM
- Campaign Finance/Campaign donations
- Speaking Events
- Why Heather Mizeur is NOT a progressive
- Campaign responses to Community Organization Questionnaires
Cindy Walsh vs Maryland Board of Elections
- Leniency from court for self-representing plaintiffs
- Amended Complaint
- Plaintiff request for expedited trial date
- Response to Motion to Dismiss--Brown, Gansler, Mackie, and Lamone
- Injunction and Mandamus
DECISION/APPEAL TO SPECIAL COURT OF APPEALS---Baltimore City Circuit Court response to Cindy Walsh complaint
Brief for Maryland Court of Special Appeals
- Cover Page ---yellow
- Table of Contents
- Table of Authorities
- Leniency for Pro Se Representation
- Statement of Case
- Questions Presented
- Statement of Facts
- Conclusion/Font and Type Size
- Record Extract
- Motion for Reconsideration
- Response to Defendants Motion to Dismiss
- Motion to Reconsider Dismissal
- Brief for Maryland Court of Special Appeals >
- General Election fraud and recount complaints
Cindy Walsh goes to Federal Court for Maryland election violations
- Complaints filed with the FCC, the IRS, and the FBI
- Zapple Doctrine---Media Time for Major Party candidates
- Complaint filed with the US Justice Department for election fraud and court irregularities.
- US Attorney General, Maryland Attorney General, and Maryland Board of Elections are charged with enforcing election law
- Private media has a responsibility to allow access to all candidates in an election race. >
- Polling should not determine a candidate's viability especially if the polling is arbitrary
- Viability of a candidate
- Public media violates election law regarding do no damage to candidate's campaign
- 501c3 Organizations violate election law in doing no damage to a candidate in a race >
- Voter apathy increases when elections are not free and fair
- Maryland Board of Elections certifies election on July 10, 2014
- Maryland Elections ---2016
CIVIL CLAIM IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
Parties to this complaint
Cindy Walsh vs Maryland League of Women Voters
2522 N Calvert Street Civil Action # __________________
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
Maryland League of Women Voters
Susan Cochran- President
111 Cathedral Street Suite 201
Annapolis MD 21401
Cindy Walsh for Governor of Maryland is filing in United States District Court for Maryland in Baltimore because plaintiff is a resident of Baltimore and the election irregularities identified in the Federal Court case include businesses located and operating in Maryland. The plaintiff claims Maryland League of Women Voters failed to abide by election law. Violations include IRS laws protecting elections.
U.S. Code › Title 28 › Part IV › Chapter 85 › § 1343 28 U.S. Code § 1343 - Civil rights and elective franchise
(a) The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action authorized by law to be commenced by any person: (1) To recover damages for injury to his person or property, or because of the deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, by any act done in furtherance of any conspiracy mentioned in section 1985 of Title 42; (2) To recover damages from any person who fails to prevent or to aid in preventing any wrongs mentioned in section 1985 of Title 42 which he had knowledge were about to occur and power to prevent; (3) To redress the deprivation, under color of any State law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage, of any right, privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution of the United States or by any Act of Congress providing for equal rights of citizens or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States; (4) To recover damages or to secure equitable or other relief under any Act of Congress providing for the protection of civil rights, including the right to vote.
Statement of Facts and Claims
The Maryland League of Women Voters encompasses political organizations across Maryland and in cities and counties having large populations of working class and poor citizens. MLWV willfully, deliberately and with malice excluded Cindy Walsh from debates and media coverage during the Democratic Primary for Governor of Maryland and my platform never reached said membership and audience. MLWV entered into an agreement with Maryland Public Television to record their Maryland gubernatorial debate on failing to invite Cindy Walsh to participate. Indeed, MLWV knew the election results would have changed if a candidate with a platform of prioritizing civil rights and liberties, public and labor justice were allowed event/media exposure. The IRS election law states that 501c3s will not participate in elections in a way that damages a candidate's campaign and even though the FCC does not require a media outlet to give equal time to all candidates, but it does require that a platform not be excluded and that citizens be educated to the issues and candidates in an election race. MLWV partnered with more than one media outlet that excluded Cindy Walsh ---- willfully, deliberately, and with malice excluded my campaign and platform and in so doing damaged Cindy Walsh for Governor of Maryland and her campaign and the rights of voters as citizens to go to the polls able to cast an intelligent vote. An action non-profit can identify and support a politician throughout the year but they may not participate in an election cycle in a way that violates the IRS law stating do no damage to a candidate. The Maryland League of Women Voters devised guidelines tied to polling numbers as a way to exclude candidates from media events that are not Constitutional and do not meet IRS and FCC election laws. The polling in Maryland's Primary race for Governor was so corrupt as to clearly be an unreliable gauge in any matter. Cindy Walsh claims that Maryland League of Women Voters violated False Statements laws by altering a government document-----The Maryland Board of Elections Governor's Race List of candidates and in so doing defamed the plaintiff by denying her status as a viable candidate.
18 U.S. Code § 1001 (a) (2) (3); Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(i); Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii);Rev. Rul. 66-256, 1966-2 C.B. 210;Rev. Rul. 74-574, 1974-2 C.B. 160; Rev. Rul. 78-248, 1978-1 C.B. 154; Rev. Rul. 80-282, 1980-2 C.B. 178; Rev. Rul. 86-95, 1986-2 C.B. 73;Title 47 Section 312 [47 U.S.C. §312] (a) (7) (f) (1) (2); Section 315 [47 U.S.C. §315] (a) (1) (2) (3) (4); Section 399 [47 U.S.C. §399] ; Section 73.1940 [47 CFR §73.1940] (a) (1) (2) (3) (b) (1) (2) (e) (1) (2) (f); Section 73.1941 [47 CFR §73.1941] (a) (1) (2) (3) (4) (b) (c) (d) (e); 1.501(c)(3)–1;
Place, date, and time of violation:
Demand for Relief:
The plaintiff Cindy Walsh demands that the 501 c3 organization, Maryland League of Women Voters, be placed on court oversight for several election cycles and probation that monitors against violations of election law. The director of this organization should receive misdemeanor charges for these violations. Failure to comply with election law in the future should see stronger penalties. Since directors are appointed it should fall to the Board of Directors hiring these directors to face future penalties.
This 501c3 organization, Maryland League of Women Voters, partnered with an FCC-regulated and IRS 501c3 media outlet to broadcast a forum they sponsored and are therefore responsible for FCC election violation fines.
Violations of FCC law ----Any person who willfully and knowingly does or causes or suffers to be done any act, matter or thing prohibited or declared to be unlawful or who willfully and knowingly omits or fails to do any act, matter or thing required to be done, or willfully and knowingly causes or suffers such omission or failure, shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished for such offense for which no penalty (other than the forfeiture as provided in the Act), by fine of not more than $10,000.00 or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both. This fine should be applied to Morgan State University.
Violations of False Statement and defamation in Federal Court - $5,000 paid by Baltimore Education Coalition for seeking to deny Cindy Walsh with loss of election and her securing of employment as Governor of Maryland. Wages and benefits from a 4 year term as governor would reach $2 million.
Damages Awarded for Defamation in Maryland Among the damages for defamation in Maryland include:
- actual damages
- punitive damages
- other damages awarded by the court
Punitive Damages in Maryland: Reconciling Federal Law, State Law, and the Pattern Jury Instructions
· Stephen J. Shapiro
University of Baltimore - School of Law
University of Baltimore Law Forum, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 27-53, Fall 2007
· Starting in the early 1990's, both the United States Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of Maryland addressed the issue of jury discretion in awarding punitive damages. The two courts addressed the perceived problem in two different ways. The United States Supreme Court focused their attention mainly on the excessive amount of such awards. It held that the Due Process Clause regulates both the procedures used in awarding punitive damages and the amounts of such awards. The Court required that juries be given sufficient instructions to enable them to make awards based on the purpose of punitive damages, and required state trial judges and appellate courts to reduce the amount of such awards if they were “grossly excessive.” The Court provided state judges with guideposts for determining the appropriate amount of punitive damage awards and required that the amounts be proportionate to the amount of compensatory damages.
The Court of Appeals of Maryland focused its attention instead on the proof required for a jury to make a punitive damages award in the first place. It held that punitive damage awards could only be made if the defendant's conduct rose to the level of actual malice (evil motive or intent to do harm, or knowing that its actions would be harmful) and not just implied malice (gross negligence, recklessness, or should have known of the harm). In addition, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that juries should be instructed that they must find that actual malice had been proved by “clear and convincing evidence,” and not just a preponderance of the evidence.
This article will suggest several changes to Maryland law and the Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instructions, so that the instructions more accurately reflect Maryland law, and that Maryland law complies with the Due Process Clause. The proposed changes include:
• providing a clearer standard in the instructions for when punitive damages should be awarded;
• clarifying that the “clear and convincing” standard applies only to the finding of “actual malice” and not to the broader question of whether and in what amount to award punitive damages;
• changing the law, the procedure and the jury instructions relating to whether and when a jury may consider evidence of the defendant's financial condition in calculating the amount of a punitive damage award; and
• providing more guidance to juries as to the appropriate amount of punitive damage awards.
· Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
· Keywords: punitive damages, jury discretion, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals of Maryland, Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instructions, compensatory damages, Due Process Clause
· JEL Classification: K13, K49
· Accepted Paper Series
· Download This Paper
· Date posted: June 24, 2009
· Suggested Citation
· Shapiro, Stephen J., Punitive Damages in Maryland: Reconciling Federal Law, State Law, and the Pattern Jury Instructions (Fall 2007). University of Baltimore Law Forum, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 27-53, Fall 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1425083
Punitive damages in Rockville, Maryland usually cannot exceed 10 times the amount of actual damages suffered by the plaintiff. However, this is just a guideline, and not a strict rule. Courts in Maryland have found larger punitive damage awards to be perfectly valid, and smaller ones to be invalid. This will be highly dependent on the facts of each case.
Violations of the election law requiring 501c3 organizations to invite all candidates to debates or forums as the only way to eliminate bias or showing opposition to another candidate.
What Does "Participating in a Political Campaign" Mean?
Organizations with 501(c)(3) status cannot participate in political campaigns.
What is a political campaign? In general, the IRS rule refers to campaigns between people who are running for offices in public elections. These can include: candidates running for president of the U.S.; candidates running for governor; candidates running for mayor; and also candidates for lower elected offices such as school board officials, city supervisors, and county trustees.
What is "participating?" Your organization cannot participate in a campaign, directly or indirectly, on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate. If your organization takes a stand in any campaign, supporting or opposing one or another candidate, this violates the prohibition.
LAW Section 501(c)(3) provides for the exemption from federal income tax of organizations organized and operated exclusively for charitable or educational purposes, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in section 501(h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.
Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(i) of the Income Tax Regulations states that an organization is not operated exclusively for one or more exempt purposes if it is an “action” organization.
Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii) of the regulations defines an “action” organization as an organization that participates or intervenes, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. The term “candidate for public office” is defined as an individual who offers himself, or is proposed by others, as a contestant for an elective public office, whether such office be national, State, or local. The regulations further provide that activities that constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate include, but are not limited to, the publication or distribution of written statements or the making of oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to such a candidate.
Whether an organization is participating or intervening, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each case. For example, certain “voter education” activities, including preparation and distribution of certain voter guides, conducted in a non-partisan manner may not constitute prohibited political activities under section 501(c)(3) of the Code. Other so-called “voter education” activities may be proscribed by the statute. Rev. Rul. 78-248, 1978-1 C.B. 154, contrasts several situations illustrating when an organization that publishes a compilation of candidate positions or voting records has or has not engaged in prohibited political activities based on whether the questionnaire used to solicit candidate positions or the voters guide itself shows a bias or preference in content or structure with respect to the views of a particular candidate. See also Rev. Rul. 80-282, 1980-2 C.B. 178, amplifying Rev. Rul. 78-248 regarding the timing and distribution of voter education materials.
The presentation of public forums or debates is a recognized method of educating the public. See Rev. Rul. 66-256, 1966-2 C.B. 210 (nonprofit organization formed to conduct public forums at which lectures and debates on social, political, and international matters are presented qualifies for exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3)). Providing a forum for candidates is not, in and of itself, prohibited political activity. See Rev. Rul. 74-574, 1974-2 C.B. 160 (organization operating a broadcast station is not participating in political campaigns on behalf of public candidates by providing reasonable amounts of air time equally available to all legally qualified candidates for election to public office in compliance with the reasonable access provisions of the Communications Act of 1934). However, a forum for candidates could be operated in a manner that would show a bias or preference for or against a particular candidate. This could be done, for example, through biased questioning procedures. On the other hand, a forum held for the purpose of educating and informing the voters, which provides fair and impartial treatment of candidates, and which does not promote or advance one candidate over another, would not constitute participation or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. See Rev. Rul. 86-95, 1986-2 C.B. 73 (organization that proposes to educate voters by conducting a series of public forums in congressional districts during congressional election campaigns is not participating in a political campaign on behalf of any candidate due to the neutral form and content of its proposed forums).
Rev. Rul. 86-95, 1986-2 C.B. 73 Exemption; public forums; congressional candidates. The conduct of public forums involving qualified congressionalcandidates in the manner described, by an organization otherwise exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Code, will not constitute participation or intervention in any political campaign within the meaning of section 501(c)(3).
Rev. Rul. 66-256 amplified. ISSUE Would the conduct of public forums involving qualifiedcongressional candidates by an organization otherwise described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, in the manner described below, constitute participation or intervention in any political campaign within the meaning of section 501(c)(3)? FACTS The organization is an educational membership organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Code. As one of its programs, the organization monitors and reports on legislative, judicial, administrative, and other governmental activities and developments considered to be ofimportant interest to its members. The organization proposes to conduct a series of publicforums. These forums will be conducted in congressional districts during congressional election campaigns. All legally qualifiedcandidates for the House of Representatives from the congressional districts in question will be invited to participate in a forum. The agenda at each of the forums will cover a broad range ofissues, including, but not limited to, those issues considered to be of important educational interest to the organization'smembers. Questions to forum participants will be prepared and presented by a nonpartisan, independent panel of knowledgeable persons composed of representatives of the media, educationalorganizations, community leaders, and other interested persons. Each candidate will be allowed an equal opportunity to present his or her views on each of the issues discussed. The organization will select a moderator for each forum whose sole function will be limited to assuring that the general ground rules are followed. At both the beginning and end of each forum, the moderator will state that the views expressed are those of the candidates and not those of the organization and that the sponsorship of the forum is not intended as an endorsement of any candidate.
LAW AND ANALYSIS Section 501(c)(3) of the Code provides for the exemption from federal income tax of organizations organized and operatedexclusively for charitable or educational purposes, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, (except as otherwise provided in section 501(h)), and which do not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing ordistributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.
Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(i) of the Income Tax Regulationsstates that an organization is not operated exclusively for one or more exempt purposes if it is an "action" organization. Section 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii) defines an "action" organization as an organization that participates or intervenes, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. The regulationsfurther provide that activities that constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate include, but are not limited to, the publication or distribution of written statements or the making of oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to such a candidate.
Rev. Rul. 66-256, 1966-2 C.B. 210, holds that a nonprofit organization formed to conduct public forums at which lectures and debates on social, political, and international matters are presented qualifies for exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
Rev. Rul. 74-574, 1974-2 C.B. 160, holds that a section 501(c)(3) organization operating a broadcast station is not participating in political campaigns on behalf of publiccandidates by providing reasonable amounts of air time equally available to all legally qualified candidates for election to public office in compliance with the reasonable access provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. Sec. 312(a)(7),(1982). Whether an organization is participating or intervening,directly or indirectly, in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each case. For example, certain "voter education" activities conducted in a non-partisan manner may not constitute prohibited political activities under section 501(c)(3) of the Code. Other so-called "voter education" activities may be proscribed by the statute.
Rev. Rul. 78-248, 1978-1 C.B. 154, contrasts several situations illustrating when an organization that publishes a compilation of a candidate's position or voting record has or has not engaged in prohibited political activities based on whether the questionnaire or voting guide in content or structure shows a bias or preference with respect to the views of a particular candidate. See also Rev. Rul. 80-282, 1980-2 C.B. 178, that amplified Rev. Rul. 78-248 regarding the timing and distribution of voter education materials. The presentation of public forums or debates is a recognized method of educating the public. See Rev. Rul. 66-256. Providing a forum for candidates is not, in and of itself, prohibited political activity. See Rev. Rul. 74-574. However, a forum for candidates could be operated in a manner that would show a bias or preference for or against a particular candidate. This could be done, for example, through biased questioning procedures. On the other hand, a forum held for the purpose of educating and informing the voters, which provides fair and impartial treatment of candidates, and which does not promote or advance one candidate over another, would not constitute participation or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to anycandidate for public office. The facts and circumstances of this case establish that both the format and content of the proposed forums will be presented in a neutral manner. All legally qualified congressional candidateswill be invited to participate in the forum. The questions willbe prepared and presented by a nonpartisan, independent panel. The topics discussed will cover a broad range of issues of interest to the public, notwithstanding that the issues discussed may include issues of particular importance to the organization's members. Each candidate will receive an equal opportunity to present his or her views on each of the issues discussed. Finally, the moderator selected by the organization will notcomment on the questions or otherwise make comments that imply approval or disapproval of any of the candidates. In view of these facts, the organization will not be considered to be engaged in prohibited political activity. This conclusion is based on the totality of the circumstances described. The presence or absence of a particular fact here in other similar situations is not determinative of other cases but would have to be considered in light of all the surrounding factors in that case. HOLDING The conduct of public forums involving qualifiedcongressional candidates in the manner described above, by an organization otherwise described in section 501(c)(3) of the Code, will not constitute participation or intervention in any political campaign within the meaning of section 501(c)(3). EFFECT ON OTHER REVENUE RULINGS Rev. Rul. 66-256 is amplified.
18 U.S. Code § 1001 (a) (2) (3) False statements of fact
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years
· Defamation per se
Section 312 [47 U.S.C. §312] Administrative sanctions.
(a) The Commission may revoke any station license or construction permit –
(7) for willful or repeated failure to allow reasonable access to or to permit purchase of reasonable amounts of time for the use of a broadcasting station, other than a non-commercial educational broadcast station, by a legally qualified candidate for Federal elective office on behalf of his candidacy.
(f) For purposes of this section:
(1) The term “willful”, when used with reference to the commission or omission of any act, means the conscious and deliberate commission or omission of such act, irrespective of any intent to violate any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission authorized by this Act or by a treaty ratified by the United States.
(2) The term “repeated”, when used with reference to the commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of such act more than once or, if such commission or omission is continuous, for more than one day.
Section 315 [47 U.S.C. §315] Facilities for candidates for public office.
(a) If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provision of this section. No obligation is hereby imposed under this subsection upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate. Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any –
(1) bona fide newscast,
(2) bona fide news interview,
(3) bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary), or
(4) on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto),
shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection. Nothing in the foregoing sentence shall be construed as relieving broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, from the obligation imposed upon them under this Act to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance.
Section 399 [47 U.S.C. §399] Support of political candidates prohibited.
No noncommercial educational broadcasting station may support or oppose any candidate for public office.
Section 73.1940 [47 CFR §73.1940] Legally qualified candidates for public office.
(a) A legally qualified candidate for public office is any person who:
(1) Has publicly announced his or her intention to run for nomination or office;
(2) Is qualified under the applicable local, State or Federal law to hold the office for which he or she is a candidate; and
(3) Has met the qualifications set forth in either paragraph (b), (c), (d), or (e) of this section.
(b) A person seeking election to any public office including that of President or Vice President of the United States, or nomination for any public office except that of President or Vice President, by means of a primary, general or special election, shall be considered a legally qualified candidate if, in addition to meeting the criteria set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, that person:
(1) Has qualified for a place on the ballot; or
(2) Has publicly committed himself or herself to seeking election by the write-in method and is eligible under applicable law to be voted for by sticker, by writing in his or her name on the ballot or by other method, and makes a substantial showing that he or she is a bona fide candidate for nomination or office.
(e) A person seeking nomination for the office of President or Vice President of the United States shall, for the purposes of the Communications Act and the rules thereunder, be considered a legally qualified candidate only in those States or territories (or the District of Columbia) in which, in addition to meeting the requirements set forth in paragraph (a) of this section:
(1) He or she, or proposed delegates on his or her behalf, have qualified for the primary or Presidential preference ballot in that State, territory or the District of Columbia; or
(2) He or she has made a substantial showing of a bona fide candidacy for such nomination in that State, territory or the District of Columbia; except, that any such person meeting the requirements set forth in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section in at least 10 States (or 9 and the District of Columbia) shall be considered a legally qualified candidate for nomination in all States, territories and the District of Columbia for purposes of this Act.
(f) The term "substantial showing" of a bona fide candidacy as used in paragraphs (b), (d) and (e) of this section means evidence that the person claiming to be a candidate has engaged to a substantial degree in activities commonly associated with political campaigning. Such activities normally would include making campaign speeches, distributing campaign literature, issuing press releases, maintaining a campaign committee, and establishing campaign headquarters (even though the headquarters in some instances might be the residence of the candidate or his or her campaign manager). Not all of the listed activities are necessarily required in each case to demonstrate a substantial showing, and there may be activities not listed herein which would contribute to such a showing.
[43 FR 32795, July 28, 1978, as amended at 43 FR 45856, Oct. 4, 1978; 43 FR 55769, Nov. 29, 1978; 45 FR 26066, Apr. 17, 1980; 45 FR 28141, Apr. 28, 1980; 57 FR 208, Jan. 3, 1992; 57 FR 27708, June 22, 1992]
Section 73.1941 [47 CFR §73.1941] Equal Opportunities.
(a) General requirements. Except as other-wise indicated in § 73.1944, no station licensee is required to permit the use of its facilities by any legally qualified candidate for public office, but if any licensee shall permit any such candidate to use its facilities, it shall afford equal opportunities to all other candidates for that office to use such facilities. Such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast by any such candidate. Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any:
(1) Bona fide newscast;
(2) Bona fide news interview;
(3) Bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary); or
(4) On-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including, but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto) shall not be deemed to be use of broadcasting station. (section 315(a) of the Communications Act.)
(b) Uses. As used in this section and § 73.1942, the term "use" means a candidate appearance (including by voice or picture) that is not exempt under paragraphs 73.1941 (a)(1) through (a)(4) of this section.
(c) Timing of request. A request for equal opportunities must be submitted to the licensee within 1 week of the day on which the first prior use giving rise to the right of equal opportunities occurred: Provided, however, That where the person was not a candidate at the time of such first prior use, he or she shall submit his or her request within 1 week of the first subsequent use after he or she has become a legally qualified candidate for the office in question.
(d) Burden of proof. A candidate requesting equal opportunities of the licensee or complaining of noncompliance to the Commission shall have the burden of proving that he or she and his or her opponent are legally qualified candidates for the same public office.
(e) Discrimination between candidates. In making time available to candidates for public office, no licensee shall make any discrimination between candidates in practices, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with the service rendered pursuant to this part, or make or give any preference to any candidate for public office or subject any such candidate to any prejudice or disadvantage; nor shall any licensee make any contract or other agreement which shall have the effect of permitting any legally qualified candidate for any public office to broadcast to the exclusion of other legally qualified candidates for the same public office.
[57 FR 208, Jan. 3, 1992; 59 FR 14568, March 29, 1994]
Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations
FS-2006-17, February 2006
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is releasing this fact sheet to provide information to help section 501(c)(3) organizations stay in compliance with the federal tax law. Many of the types of political intervention activities addressed in the fact sheet were those that came under scrutiny during the 2004 election cycle. The contents reflect the IRS interpretation of tax laws enacted by Congress, Treasury regulations, and court decisions. The information is not comprehensive, however, and does not cover every situation. Thus, it is not intended to replace the law or be the sole source of information. The resolution of any particular issue may depend on the specific facts and circumstances of a given taxpayer.
With the 2006 campaign season approaching, the IRS is launching enhanced education and enforcement efforts, based on the findings and analysis of the 2004 election cycle. The IRS is providing this fact sheet to help ensure that charities have enough advance notice of the types of problems that have occurred, the legal strictures against engaging in political activities and how to avoid these problems.
The IRS considers this fact sheet a living document, one that will be revised to take into account future developments and feedback. This fact sheet is the beginning of the IRS effort to increase the educational material available to the community. The IRS encourages comments which may be submitted to the IRS at the following addresses:
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224
Churches should also see Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.
Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations
During election campaigns, many churches, universities, hospitals, social service providers, and other section 501(c)(3) organizations are uncertain about the extent to which they can discuss issues of importance in the campaigns or interact with candidates for public office. They are also uncertain about the role they can play in encouraging citizens to register and vote. This fact sheet is intended to help organizations understand what they can and cannot do when an election campaign is under way.
The Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(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. The prohibition applies to all campaigns including campaigns at the federal, state and local level. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Those section 501(c)(3) organizations that are private foundations are subject to additional restrictions that are not described in this fact sheet.
What is Political Campaign Intervention?
Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention. Distributing statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office will also violate the prohibition. Allowing a candidate to use an organization’s assets or facilities will also violate the prohibition if other candidates are not given an equivalent opportunity. Although section 501(c)(3) organizations may engage in some activities to promote voter registration, encourage voter participation, and provide voter education, they will violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention if they engage in an activity that favors or opposes any candidate for public office. Certain activities will require an evaluation of all the facts and circumstances to determine whether they result in political campaign intervention.
Voter Education, Voter Registration and Get Out the Vote Drives
Section 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to conduct certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) if they are carried out in a non-partisan manner. In addition, section 501(c)(3) organizations may encourage people to participate in the electoral process through voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities conducted in a biased manner that favors (or opposes) one or more candidates is prohibited.
Example 1: B, a section 501(c)(3) organization that promotes community involvement, sets up a booth at the state fair where citizens can register to vote. The signs and banners in and around the booth give only the name of the organization, the date of the next upcoming statewide election, and notice of the opportunity to register. No reference to any candidate or political party is made by the volunteers staffing the booth or in the materials available at the booth, other than the official voter registration forms which allow registrants to select a party affiliation. B is not engaged in political campaign intervention when it operates this voter registration booth.
Example 2: C is a section 501(c)(3) organization that educates the public on environmental issues. Candidate G is running for the state legislature and an important element of her platform is challenging the environmental policies of the incumbent. Shortly before the election, C sets up a telephone bank to call registered voters in the district in which Candidate G is seeking election. In the phone conversations, C’s representative tells the voter about the importance of environmental issues and asks questions about the voter’s views on these issues. If the voter appears to agree with the incumbent’s position, C’s representative thanks the voter and ends the call. If the voter appears to agree with Candidate G’s position, C’s representative reminds the voter about the upcoming election, stresses the importance of voting in the election and offers to provide transportation to the polls. C is engaged in political campaign intervention when it conducts this get-out-the-vote drive.
Individual Activity by Organization Leaders
The political campaign intervention prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under section 501(c)(3), leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions of the organization. To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of organization functions and publications, organization leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.
Example 3: President A is the Chief Executive Officer of Hospital J, a section 501(c)(3) organization, and is well known in the community. With the permission of five prominent healthcare industry leaders, including President A, who have personally endorsed Candidate T, Candidate T publishes a full page ad in the local newspaper listing the names of the five leaders. President A is identified in the ad as the CEO of Hospital J. The ad states, “Titles and affiliations of each individual are provided for identification purposes only.” The ad is paid for by Candidate T’s campaign committee. Because the ad was not paid for by Hospital J, the ad is not otherwise in an official publication of Hospital J, and the endorsement is made by President A in a personal capacity, the ad does not constitute campaign intervention by Hospital J.
Example 4: President B is the president of University K, a section 501(c)(3) organization. University K publishes a monthly alumni newsletter that is distributed to all alumni of the university. In each issue, President B has a column titled “My Views.” The month before the election, President B states in the “My Views” column, “It is my personal opinion that Candidate U should be reelected.” For that one issue, President B pays from his personal funds the portion of the cost of the newsletter attributable to the “My Views” column. Even though he paid part of the cost of the newsletter, the newsletter is an official publication of the university. Because the endorsement appeared in an official publication of University K, it constitutes campaign intervention by University K.
Example 5: Minister C is the minister of Church L, a section 501(c)(3) organization and Minister C is well known in the community. Three weeks before the election, he attends a press conference at Candidate V’s campaign headquarters and states that Candidate V should be reelected. Minister C does not say he is speaking on behalf of Church L. His endorsement is reported on the front page of the local newspaper and he is identified in the article as the minister of Church L. Because Minister C did not make the endorsement at an official church function, in an official church publication or otherwise use the church’s assets, and did not state that he was speaking as a representative of Church L, his actions do not constitute campaign intervention by Church L.
Example 6: Chairman D is the chairman of the Board of Directors of M, a section 501(c)(3) organization that educates the public on conservation issues. During a regular meeting of M shortly before the election, Chairman D spoke on a number of issues, including the importance of voting in the upcoming election, and concluded by stating, “It is important that you all do your duty in the election and vote for Candidate W.” Because Chairman D’s remarks indicating support for Candidate W were made during an official organization meeting, they constitute political campaign intervention by M.
Depending on the facts and circumstances, an organization may invite political candidates to speak at its events without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Political candidates may be invited in their capacity as candidates, or in their individual capacity (not as a candidate). Candidates may also appear without an invitation at organization events that are open to the public.
A candidate may seek to reassure the organization that it is permissible for the organization to do certain things in connection with the candidate’s appearance. An organization in this position should keep in mind that the candidate may not be familiar with the organization’s tax-exempt status and that the candidate may be focused on compliance with the election laws that apply to the candidate’s campaign rather than the federal tax law that applies to the organization. The organization will be in the best position to ensure compliance with the prohibition on political campaign intervention if it makes its own independent conclusion about its compliance with federal tax law.
Speaking as a Candidate
When a candidate is invited to speak at an organization event as a political candidate, the organization must take steps to ensure that:
• It provides an equal opportunity to political candidates seeking the same office;
• It does not indicate any support for or opposition to the candidate (this should be stated explicitly when the candidate is introduced and in communications concerning the candidate’s attendance); and
• No political fundraising occurs.
Equal Opportunity to Participate
In determining whether candidates are given an equal opportunity to participate, an organization should consider the nature of the event to which each candidate is invited, in addition to the manner of presentation.
For example, an organization that invites one candidate to speak at its well attended annual banquet, but invites the opposing candidate to speak at a sparsely attended general meeting, will likely have violated the political campaign prohibition, even if the manner of presentation for both speakers is otherwise neutral.
Sometimes an organization invites several candidates for the same office to speak at a public forum. A public forum involving several candidates for public office may qualify as an exempt educational activity. However, if the forum is operated to show a bias for or against any candidate, then the forum would be political campaign intervention.
When an organization invites several candidates for the same office to speak at a forum, it should consider the following factors:
• Whether questions for the candidate are prepared and presented by an independent nonpartisan panel,
• Whether the topics discussed by the candidates cover a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought and are of interest to the public,
• Whether each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present his or her view on the issues discussed,
• Whether the candidates are asked to agree or disagree with positions, agendas, platforms or statements of the organization, and
• Whether a moderator comments on the questions or otherwise implies approval or disapproval of the candidates.
Example 7: President E is the president of Society N, a historical society that is a section 501(c)(3) organization. In the month prior to the election, President E invites the three Congressional candidates for the district in which Society N is located to address the members, one each at a regular meeting held on three successive weeks. Each candidate is given an equal opportunity to address and field questions on a wide variety of topics from the members. Society N’s publicity announcing the dates for each of the candidate’s speeches and President E’s introduction of each candidate include no comments on their qualifications or any indication of a preference for any candidate. Society N’s actions do not constitute political campaign intervention.
Example 8: The facts are the same as in Example 7 except that there are four candidates in the race rather than three, and one of the candidates declines the invitation to speak. In the publicity announcing the dates for each of the candidate’s speeches, Society N includes a statement that the order of the speakers was determined at random and the fourth candidate declined the Society’s invitation to speak. President E makes the same statement in his opening remarks at each of the meetings where one of the candidates is speaking. Society N’s actions do not constitute political campaign intervention.
Example 9: Minister F is the minister of Church O, a section 501(c)(3) organization. The Sunday before the November election, Minister F invites Senate Candidate X to preach to her congregation during worship services. During his remarks, Candidate X states, “I am asking not only for your votes, but for your enthusiasm and dedication, for your willingness to go the extra mile to get a very large turnout on Tuesday.” Minister F invites no other candidate to address her congregation during the Senatorial campaign. Because these activities take place during official church services, they are attributed to Church O. By selectively providing church facilities to allow Candidate X to speak in support of his campaign, Church O’s actions constitute political campaign intervention.
Speaking or Participating as a Non-Candidate
Candidates may also appear or speak at organization events in a non-candidate capacity. For instance, a political candidate may be a public figure who is invited to speak because he or she: (a) currently holds, or formerly held, public office; (b) is considered an expert in a non political field; or (c) is a celebrity or has led a distinguished military, legal, or public service career. A candidate may choose to attend an event that is open to the public, such as a lecture, concert or worship service. The candidate’s presence at an organization-sponsored event does not, by itself, cause the organization to be engaged in political campaign intervention. However, if the candidate is publicly recognized by the organization, or if the candidate is invited to speak, the organization must ensure that:
• The individual is chosen to speak solely for reasons other than candidacy for public office;
• The individual speaks only in a non-candidate capacity;
• Neither the individual nor any representative of the organization makes any mention of his or her candidacy or the election;
• No campaign activity occurs in connection with the candidate’s attendance; and
• The organization maintains a nonpartisan atmosphere on the premises or at the event where the candidate is present.
In addition, the organization should clearly indicate the capacity in which the candidate is appearing and should not mention the individual’s political candidacy or the upcoming election in the communications announcing the candidate’s attendance at the event.
Example 10: Historical society P is a section 501(c)(3) organization. Society P is located in the state capital. President G is the president of Society P and customarily acknowledges the presence of any public officials present during meetings. During the state gubernatorial race, Lieutenant Governor Y, a candidate, attends a meeting of the historical society. President G acknowledges the Lieutenant Governor’s presence in his customary manner, saying, “We are happy to have joining us this evening Lieutenant Governor Y.” President G makes no reference in his welcome to the Lieutenant Governor’s candidacy or the election. Society P has not engaged in political campaign intervention as a result of President G’s actions.
Example 11: Chairman H is the chairman of the Board of Hospital Q, a section 501(c)(3) organization. Hospital Q is building a new wing. Chairman H invites Congressman Z, the representative for the district containing Hospital Q, to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new wing. Congressman Z is running for reelection at the time. Chairman H makes no reference in her introduction to Congressman Z’s candidacy or the election. Congressman Z also makes no reference to his candidacy or the election and does not do any fundraising while at Hospital Q. Hospital Q has not intervened in a political campaign.
Example 12: University X is a section 501(c)(3) organization. X publishes an alumni newsletter on a regular basis. Individual alumni are invited to send in updates about themselves which are printed in each edition of the newsletter. After receiving an update letter from Alumnus Q, X prints the following: “Alumnus Q, class of ‘XX is running for mayor of Metropolis.” The newsletter does not contain any reference to this election or to Alumnus Q’s candidacy other than this statement of fact. University X has not intervened in a political campaign.
Example 13: Mayor G attends a concert performed by Symphony S, a section 501(c)(3) organization, in City Park. The concert is free and open to the public. Mayor G is a candidate for reelection, and the concert takes place after the primary and before the general election. During the concert, the chairman of S’s board addresses the crowd and says, “I am pleased to see Mayor G here tonight. Without his support, these free concerts in City Park would not be possible. We will need his help if we want these concerts to continue next year so please support Mayor G in November as he has supported us.” As a result of these remarks, Symphony S has engaged in political campaign intervention.
Issue Advocacy vs. Political Campaign Intervention
Under federal tax law, section 501(c)(3) organizations may take positions on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in an election for public office. However, section 501(c)(3) organizations must avoid any issue advocacy that functions as political campaign intervention. Even if a statement does not expressly tell an audience to vote for or against a specific candidate, an organization delivering the statement is at risk of violating the political campaign intervention prohibition if there is any message favoring or opposing a candidate. A statement can identify a candidate not only by stating the candidate’s name but also by other means such as showing a picture of the candidate, referring to political party affiliations, or other distinctive features of a candidate’s platform or biography. All the facts and circumstances need to be considered to determine if the advocacy is political campaign intervention.
Key factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
• Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office;
• Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval for one or more candidates’ positions and/or actions;
• Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election;
• Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election;
• Whether the issue addressed in the communication has been raised as an issue distinguishing candidates for a given office;
• Whether the communication is part of an ongoing series of communications by the organization on the same issue that are made independent of the timing of any election; and
• Whether the timing of the communication and identification of the candidate are related to a non-electoral event such as a scheduled vote on specific legislation by an officeholder who also happens to be a candidate for public office.
A communication is particularly at risk of political campaign intervention when it makes reference to candidates or voting in a specific upcoming election. Nevertheless, the communication must still be considered in context before arriving at any conclusions.
Example 14: University O, a section 501(c)(3) organization, prepares and finances a full page newspaper advertisement that is published in several large circulation newspapers in State V shortly before an election in which Senator C is a candidate for nomination in a party primary. Senator C represents State V in the United States Senate. The advertisement states that S. 24, a pending bill in the United States Senate, would provide additional opportunities for State V residents to attend college, but Senator C has opposed similar measures in the past. The advertisement ends with the statement “Call or write Senator C to tell him to vote for S. 24.” Educational issues have not been raised as an issue distinguishing Senator C from any opponent. S. 24 is scheduled for a vote in the United States Senate before the election, soon after the date that the advertisement is published in the newspapers. Even though the advertisement appears shortly before the election and identifies Senator C’s position on the issue as contrary to O’s position, University O has not violated the political campaign intervention prohibition because the advertisement does not mention the election or the candidacy of Senator C, education issues have not been raised as distinguishing Senator C from any opponent, and the timing of the advertisement and the identification of Senator C are directly related to the specifically identified legislation University O is supporting and appears immediately before the United States Senate is scheduled to vote on that particular legislation. The candidate identified, Senator C, is an officeholder who is in a position to vote on the legislation.
Example 15: Organization R, a section 501(c)(3) organization that educates the public about the need for improved public education, prepares and finances a radio advertisement urging an increase in state funding for public education in State X, which requires a legislative appropriation. Governor E is the governor of State X. The radio advertisement is first broadcast on several radio stations in State X beginning shortly before an election in which Governor E is a candidate for re election. The advertisement is not part of an ongoing series of substantially similar advocacy communications by Organization R on the same issue. The advertisement cites numerous statistics indicating that public education in State X is under funded. While the advertisement does not say anything about Governor E’s position on funding for public education, it ends with “Tell Governor E what you think about our under-funded schools.” In public appearances and campaign literature, Governor E’s opponent has made funding of public education an issue in the campaign by focusing on Governor E’s veto of an income tax increase the previous year to increase funding of public education. At the time the advertisement is broadcast, no legislative vote or other major legislative activity is scheduled in the State X legislature on state funding of public education. Organization R has violated the political campaign prohibition because the advertisement identifies Governor E, appears shortly before an election in which Governor E is a candidate, is not part of an ongoing series of substantially similar advocacy communications by Organization R on the same issue, is not timed to coincide with a non election event such as a legislative vote or other major legislative action on that issue, and takes a position on an issue that the opponent has used to distinguish himself from Governor E.
Example 16: Candidate A and Candidate B are candidates for the state senate in District W of State X. The issue of State X funding for a new mass transit project in District W is a prominent issue in the campaign. Both candidates have spoken out on the issue. Candidate A supports for the new mass transit project. Candidate B opposes the project and supports State X funding for highway improvements instead. P is the executive director of C, a section 501(c)(3) organization that promotes community development in District W. At C’s annual fundraising dinner in District W, which takes place in the month before the election in State X, P gives a lengthy speech about community development issues including the transportation issues. P does not mention the name of any candidate or any political party. However, at the conclusion of the speech, P makes the following statement, “For those of you who care about quality of life in District W and the growing traffic congestion, there is a very important choice coming up next month. We need new mass transit. More highway funding will not make a difference. You have the power to relieve the congestion and improve your quality of life in District W. Use that power when you go to the polls and cast your vote in the election for your state senator.” C has violated the political campaign intervention as a result of P's remarks at C's official function shortly before the election, in which P referred to the upcoming election after stating a position on an issue that is a prominent issue in a campaign that distinguishes the candidates.
Voter guides are usually pamphlets or other short documents, often in chart form, intended to help voters compare candidates’ positions on a set of issues. Preparing or distributing a voter guide may violate the prohibition against political campaign intervention if the guide focuses on a single issue or narrow range of issues, or if the questions are structured to reflect bias. Although any document that identifies candidates and their positions close in time to an election has the potential to result in political campaign intervention, preparation or distribution of voter guides, because of their nature, present a particular risk for non compliance. The following factors are key considerations in whether a voter guide can be distributed to educate voters without violating the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
• Whether the questions and any other description of the issues are clear and unbiased in both their structure and content.
• Whether the questions posed provided to the candidates are identical to those included in the voter guide.
• Whether the candidates are given a reasonable amount of time to respond to the questions. If the candidate is given limited choices for an answer to a question (e.g. yes/no, support/oppose), whether the candidate is also given a reasonable opportunity to explain his position in his own words and that explanation is included in the voter guide.
• Whether the answers in the voter guide are those provided by the candidates in response to the questions, including whether the candidate's answers are unedited, and whether they appear in close proximity to the question to which they respond.
• Whether all candidates for a particular office are covered.
• Whether the number of questions, and the subjects covered, are sufficient to encompass most major issues of interest to the entire electorate.
In assessing whether a voter guide is unbiased and nonpartisan, every aspect of the voter guide’s format, content and distribution must be taken into consideration. If the organization’s position on one or more issues is set out in the guide so that it can be compared to the candidates’ positions, the guide will constitute political campaign intervention.
An organization may be asked to distribute voter guides prepared by a third party. Each organization that distributes one or more voter guides is responsible for its own actions. If the voter guide is biased, distribution of the voter guide is an act of political campaign intervention. Therefore, an organization should reach its own independent conclusion about whether a voter guide prepared by itself or prepared by a third party covers a broad scope of issues and uses neutral form and content.
The question of whether an activity constitutes participation or intervention in a political campaign may also arise in the context of a business activity of the organization, such as selling or renting of mailing lists, the leasing of office space, or the acceptance of paid political advertising. In this context, some of the factors to be considered in determining whether the organization has engaged in political campaign intervention include the following:
• Whether the good, service or facility is available to candidates in the same election on an equal basis,
• Whether the good, service, or facility is available only to candidates and not to the general public,
• Whether the fees charged to candidates are at the organization’s customary and usual rates, and
• Whether the activity is an ongoing activity of the organization or whether it is conducted only for a particular candidate.
Example 17: Museum K is a section 501(c)(3) organization. It owns an historic building that has a large hall suitable for hosting dinners and receptions. For several years, Museum K has made the hall available for rent to members of the public. Standard fees are set for renting the hall based on the number of people in attendance, and a number of different organizations have rented the hall. Museum K rents the hall on a first come, first served basis. Candidate P rents Museum K’s social hall for a fundraising dinner. Candidate P’s campaign pays the standard fee for the dinner. Museum K is not involved in political campaign intervention as a result of renting the hall to Candidate P for use as the site of a campaign fundraising dinner.
Example 18: Theater L is a section 501(c)(3) organization. It maintains a mailing list of all of its subscribers and contributors. Theater L has never rented its mailing list to a third party. Theater L is approached by the campaign committee of Candidate Q, who supports increased funding for the arts. Candidate Q's campaign committee offers to rent Theater L's mailing list for a fee that is comparable to fees charged by other similar organizations. Theater L rents its mailing list to Candidate Q's campaign committee. Theater L declines similar requests from campaign committees of other candidates. Theater L has intervened in a political campaign.
The Internet has become a widely used communications tool. Section 501(c)(3) organizations use their own web sites to disseminate statements and information. They also routinely link their web sites to web sites maintained by other organizations as a way of providing additional information that the organizations believe is useful or relevant to the public.
A web site is a form of communication. If an organization posts something on its web site that favors or opposes a candidate for public office, the organization will be treated the same as if it distributed printed material, oral statements or broadcasts that favored or opposed a candidate.
An organization has control over whether it establishes a link to another site. When an organization establishes a link to another web site, the organization is responsible for the consequences of establishing and maintaining that link, even if the organization does not have control over the content of the linked site. Because the linked content may change over time, an organization may reduce the risk of political campaign intervention by monitoring the linked content and adjusting the links accordingly.
Links to candidate-related material, by themselves, do not necessarily constitute political campaign intervention. The IRS will take all the facts and circumstances into account when assessing whether a link produces that result. The facts and circumstances to be considered include, but are not limited to, the context for the link on the organization’s web site, whether all candidates are represented, any exempt purpose served by offering the link, and the directness of the links between the organization’s web site and the web page that contains material favoring or opposing a candidate for public office.
Example 19: M, a section 501(c)(3) organization, maintains a web site and posts an unbiased, nonpartisan voter guide that is prepared consistent with the principles discussed in the voter guide section above. For each candidate covered in the voter guide, M includes a link to that candidate’s official campaign web site. The links to the candidate web sites are presented on a consistent neutral basis for each candidate, with text saying “For more information on Candidate X, you may consult [URL].” M has not intervened in a political campaign because the links are provided for the exempt purpose of educating voters and are presented in a neutral, unbiased manner that includes all candidates for a particular office.
Example 20: Hospital N, a section 501(c)(3) organization, maintains a web site that includes such information as medical staff listings, directions to Hospital N, and descriptions of its specialty health programs, major research projects, and other community outreach programs. On one page of the web site, Hospital N describes its treatment program for a particular disease. At the end of the page, it includes a section of links to other web sites titled “More Information.” These links include links to other hospitals that have treatment programs for this disease, research organizations seeking cures for that disease, and articles about treatment programs. This section includes a link to an article on the web site of O, a major national newspaper, praising Hospital N’s treatment program for the disease. The page containing the article on O’s web site contains no reference to any candidate or election and has no direct links to candidate or election information. Elsewhere on O’s web site, there is a page displaying editorials that O has published. Several of the editorials endorse candidates in an election that has not yet occurred. Hospital N has not intervened in a political campaign by maintaining the link to the article on O’s web site because the link is provided for the exempt purpose of educating the public about Hospital N’s programs and neither the context for the link, nor the relationship between Hospital N and O nor the arrangement of the links going from Hospital N’s web site to the endorsement on O’s web site indicate that Hospital N was favoring or opposing any candidate.
Example 21: Church P, a section 501(c)(3) organization, maintains a web site that includes such information as biographies of its ministers, times of services, details of community outreach programs, and activities of members of its congregation. B, a member of the congregation of Church P, is running for a seat on the town council. Shortly before the election, Church P posts the following message on its web site, “Lend your support to B, your fellow parishioner, in Tuesday’s election for town council.” Church P has intervened in a political campaign on behalf of B.
Effect of Conducting Multiple Activities
Although each of the activities described in this fact sheet is described separately, an organization might combine one or more of the types of activity described above. For example, an organization leader may speak about an issue at an event where a candidate appears, or a voter guide might be distributed at a candidate forum. Where there is a combination of activities, the interaction among them may affect whether or not the organization is engaged in political campaign intervention.
Related Item: IR-2006-36 IRS Releases New Guidance and Results of Political Intervention Examination