Lobbying for the Public Good: Limitations on Legislative Activities by Section 501(c)(3) Organizations

Richard L. Haight, Lobbying for the Public Good: Limitations on Activities  by Section 501(c)(3) Organizations, 23 Gonz. L. Rev. 77 (1987)

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Consider the plight of the American Betterment Council, Inc. The organization, better known to its members and supporters as “ABC”, is a non-profit corporation established to provide educational opportunities to new immigrants arriving in this country. Last year, ABC applied for and was granted an exemption from income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as a charitable and educational organization.

This year a bill is pending in Congress, known as the “Immigrant Education Bill.” The bill contains everything ABC could possibly want in one piece of legislation. The officers of ABC want very much to contact the members of Congress, to testify in favor of the bill and to communicate with ABC’s membership and with the general public in an effort to increase support for the bill. They believe, to do so would be fully compatible with ABC’s charitable purpose of advancing educational opportunities for immigrants.

But what can a Section 501(c)(3) organization in fact do to champion legislation-even legislation which will serve to carry out the purpose for which the organization was granted exemption?

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David Kazemba J.D. Candidate 2014

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