Action Alert - Preserving Nonprofit Nonpartisanship
Monday, February 26, 2018
Posted by: Kristen Merrifield
Preserving Nonprofit Nonpartisanship
People Who Believe in the Missions of Nonprofits Must Speak Up Now
Last year, the White House and some well-funded special interests aggressively lobbied Congress and came dangerously close to repealing the Johnson Amendment, the longstanding law that protects charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations from demands from candidates for public office and their operatives for endorsements and other partisan activities. The only thing that stopped them from prevailing was strong and united opposition by Americans who rallied to demand that Congress keep the rancor of partisan political electioneering out of our charities, houses of worship, and foundations.
Your voice is needed again – now – to protect the Johnson Amendment, because those who seek to politicize 501(c)(3) organizations are back, vowing to have their way on the next bill coming through Congress. All individuals who care about the integrity and effectiveness of a nonprofit’s mission need to take action to protect the Johnson Amendment and tell Congress not to change this vital and longstanding law.
In early March, Members of Congress will be writing a bill to fund the government through the rest of the current fiscal year (through the end of September) and potentially address scores of other issues. By most accounts, this “omnibus spending bill” could be the last significant piece of legislation that works its way through Congress before the elections in November. For that reason, the bill is attracting many extremely controversial issues – like anti-Johnson Amendment language – that likely could never pass as free-standing bills. The legislation must be passed by March 23, but congressional leaders are negotiating right now about what will go into the bill – and what issues are too controversial to be included.
All of this is to say that politicians and well-funded partisan interests in Washington, DC are redoubling their efforts to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment, and they are looking to the omnibus spending vehicle as their last, best chance.
Take Action Now
Individuals can support nonpartisanship and help defeat efforts in Congress to repeal or weaken current protections in the law (the Johnson Amendment) by taking any of the following actions:
1. Call your Senators and Representatives: Tell them “The vast nonprofit community strongly supports the Johnson Amendment, the longstanding law that protects charitable organizations, houses of worship, and foundations from caustic, partisan politics. We expect you to oppose any attempt to attach a rider to the omnibus spending bill that would repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment. Nonprofits are counting on the [Representative/Senator] to preserve nonprofit nonpartisanship.”
How to Make the Call: Simply call the Capitol switchboard (202-225-3121) and follow the automated instructions to get to your Representative’s and Senators’ offices. NOTE: Studies show that calls to congressional offices are the most effective means of constituent advocacy – so make the calls first before taking other actions.
2. Tweet your Representatives and Senators: Find your Representative and Senators and send this message to her/him. (Be sure to start with a period before the politician’s handle):
.Representative’s/Senator’s Twitter Handle No anti-Johnson Amendment rider on the omnibus spending bill. #Nonprofits are effective because they focus on #CommunityNotCandidates. Maintain #JohnsonAmendment http://bit.ly/2nV6SQI
Here are some additional sample tweets for you to use or to give you inspiration.
3. Sign the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship, if your organization hasn’t already, and forward the link to colleague organizations and encourage their support. More than 5,600 charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations have joined this letter in calling on Members of Congress to oppose “efforts to weaken and/or repeal the current law that for six decades has successfully protected the integrity and effectiveness of charitable nonprofits and foundations by keeping them apart from partisan politics.” Read the letter and see who has already signed. You can also download the Community Letter addressed to your Representative and Senators, make copies and email them to your elected officials with a note about why nonpartisanship is so important to your organization and the people you serve. Go here to find your Representatives’ and Senators’ email addresses.
4. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor of your local newspaper. An article doesn’t have to be in the biggest newspaper in the state to get the attention of Representatives and Senators. They studiously read the clips from all their local papers, including from the small and weekly publications, and especially when their names are included in the articles. Newspapers have published the views of hundreds of people from nonprofits who have written on behalf of the Johnson Amendment and the importance of nonpartisanship. Take a look at a sampling of op-eds and letters to editors from across the country.