[Noisebridge-discuss] Noisebridge Hackers Voter Guide?

Danny O'Brien danny at spesh.com
Sat Nov 5 17:16:28 PDT 2011


On Sat, Nov 5, 2011 at 4:43 PM, Rubin Abdi <rubin at starset.net> wrote:
> I don't think that says anything about members of a 501c3 discussing
> their personal choices, or am I missing something? We can rename the
> wiki page.

Well I think the main thing is that this domain -- 501(c)3s wandering
close at election time to the campaigns of mainstream politicians
standing for election -- is what the IRS gets particularly grumpy
about, rather than sort of numinous concerns about how much %age of a
membership donation is tax-deductable or whether you can knit
Democratic hats at a craft meeting or let the Socialist Workers' Party
book a meeting in your space. They get grumpy partly because this
prohibition from candidate-support really what the 501(c)3 carve-out
is about (and what it sometimes gets abused by lobbyists to do) and
partly because opposing politicians are very good at complaining. It's
also very politically sensitive in general. Democrats don't want
churches being able to lobby and get tax-free status, Republicans
don't like supposedly neutral non-profits being used in this way.

To give you an idea of what I mean, non-profits I work with generally
become almost entirely apolitical near elections, and don't even touch
"issues" that might otherwise seem unconnected with particular
candidates during those times. It's just one of those areas where the
effort and ambiguity of working out what might be acceptable is huge
compared to the potential benefits or downsides, and the probability
of attracting attention.

So while I think you *could* complain to the IRS that having people
chat about who is their favourite mayoral candidate on a mailing list
hosted by noisebridge or in the discuss comments of an election page
on the wiki is hardly the organization itself "criticizing or
supporting a candidate on the organization's website", my guess is
that compared to most issues, we'd be more likely to waste time
struggling directly against misunderstandings about the nature of the
mailman, anarchist organizational principles or wikis, than we would
with other, apparently more controversial topics. It's a cost-benefit
thing.

Like I say, I don't want to be paranoid about this -- its not like the
Wikimedia foundation is going to lose its tax status over having a
longer entry for Obama than McCain -- or provoke either Noisebridge's
instinctive auto-trolling or self-gaming tendencies, but I did want to
flag that this as far more likely to attract bureacratic attention
than you might think.

Onward!

d.

>
> --
> Rubin
> rubin at starset.net
>
>


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