House Appropriations Committee Voted to Politicize Nonprofits - Take Action!

14 July 2017 Published in News & Updates

On Thursday July 13, 2017 the amendment to strike Section 116 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, related to Johnson Amendment enforcement, failed by a vote of 24 to 28 in the House Appropriations Committee. Utah's Congressman Chris Stewart voted with the majority to not strike Section 116. This is very disappointing for all of us at UNA and for all in our nonprofit community that worked to get our message of nonprofit nonpartisanship across to Congressman Stewart. While this is certainly a setback we are ready to work to get our message in support of nonpartisanship to congress as the bill advances.

Thanks to all of you who stood up for nonprofit nonpartisanship and get ready - WE ARE NOT DONE YET.

In the coming weeks the House and Senate are expected to consider this appropriations bill and other legislation that is harmful to the Johnson Amendment.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Help us show Utah's Delegation how many of Utah's nonprofits support nonprofit nonpartisanship! Sign your organization onto the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship and spread the word to other organizations.
See if your organization has already signed. If not, sign today.

Please read the July 13 press release from The National Council of Nonprofits.

Nonprofit Nonpartisanship Under Attack

From Kate Rubalcava, CEO of Utah Nonprofits Association July 10, 2017

The identity, integrity, and independence of Utah’s 6,000 charitable nonprofits that work every day to solve problems in our communities in a nonpartisan way is under attack in Washington, D.C. Being nonprofit, staying above the fray of politics, is a hallmark of Utah’s charitable nonprofits. But some in Congress want to radically alter the protection in current law that shields 501(c)(3) organizations from demands for endorsements and campaign cash from politicians, their consultants, and excessively partisan donors.

Known as the “Johnson Amendment,” and a fixture since President Eisenhower signed the tax reform act of 1954, the law provides a reasonable trade off. In that, the provision of law shields the entire 501(c)(3) community, in Utah and across the country, against the rancor of partisan politics so the charitable community can be a safe haven where individuals of all beliefs come together to solve community problems free from partisan divisions.

Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services tucked a rider (Section 116) into the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill thus crippling the Johnson Amendment. This rider ensures increased difficulty for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce acts of politicking within charitable nonprofits. What that means is that the cherished nonprofits you trust and believe in (from your house of worship to your favorite museums or to the local food bank) could become a venue for partisan politics. Most of us don’t want there to be Republican Charities or Democratic Charities and by weakening the IRS’ ability to enforce blatant acts of partisan electioneering, that will become our reality.

The truth is, however, that charitable nonprofits, including religious congregations, already are free to speak on important matters affecting their missions or beliefs and advocate on public policy issues and legislation. The law merely prohibits partisan campaign intervention, defined to include endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, publishing or distributing statements for or against candidates, or using tax-deductible and other resources to support partisan campaign activities.

With this rider, donations you provide to charitable nonprofits may be funneled away from supporting the mission of the organization to influence political activities. Charitable nonprofits may be called upon to endorse political candidates and the political parties they represent. If the organization chooses to stand by their mission instead of endorse a political candidate they will be at risk of losing funding. The long term effects would hurt the nonprofits you love, depend on, and respect.

Central to Utahns is our compassion for the people in our communities who are less fortunate, our love of our community and our Life Elevated. A community without nonpartisan nonprofit organizations such as museums, food pantries, and dinosaur parks is a dreary one indeed. Efforts to weaken the Johnson Amendment are a solution in search of a problem. Charitable nonprofits are essential to our well being and Congress should respect that.