[Noisebridge-discuss] Noisebridge Hackers Voter Guide?

Danny O'Brien danny at spesh.com
Mon Nov 7 15:14:31 PST 2011


On Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 2:43 PM, Olya K <krasnykh at gmail.com> wrote:
> Right. It says: "However, such organizations may present public forums,
> publish voter education guides, and conduct certain other political
> activities that the Internal Revenue Service classifies as "non-partisan".
> They may also conduct activities "intended to encourage people to
> participate" in elections, such as voter registration, training programs,
> issue briefings, and "get out the vote" drives, if done without bias that
> would favor one or more candidates over others, or that would oppose
> candidates."
> So I think its ok then to discuss, take a stance, as an organization, on
> certain issues, and, possibly even suggest how to vote on the prop's, but
> not actually endorse candidates?

It's mostly incredibly hazy, and, as with all law, depends more on
enforcement practices and who there is in power who doesn't like you
than the actual letter of the law. It's one of those edges that it's
probably best to navigate with a lawyer -- even EFF would, if I
remember rightly, would bring in external legal advice, especially
near elections. When I was an EFF activist, I would have to carefully
note how many of my hours were spent in legislative lobbying, and
report it every year.

> (and, on a more historic note i guess, what i was wandering was what were
> the reasons behind adopting such legislature? to avoid what?)
> Olya

I've always been interested in this! it turns out that the origins are
very hazy. There's an interesting paper on it here:
http://www.usc-cei.org/pdfs/Berry_NonprofitsandCivicEngagement.pdf

Essentially, charities were excluded from the beginning of income tax
legislation, but AFAICS powerful people didn't like groups like the
American Birth Control League and  religious orgs from lobbying for
legislative change with a "taxpayer's subsidy" (ie without paying
tax). It's a status that continues to please both left and right, so
it sticks. (Though I'd actually be interested in what the current
Supreme Court would say about it)

There are other organizational forms which have more leeway on
partisan lobbying, such as a 501(c)4. The main advantage for NB is
that donations to us are tax-deductible,  companies can give money to
us in matching schemes, and (theoretically) foundations and other
funders feel more comfortable dealing with us. RIght now we're not
really looking for foundation support, and I personally  quite like to
keep NB's funding on a personal basis. But that's neither here nor
there.

d.






>
> On Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 2:32 PM, Leif Ryge <leif at synthesize.us> wrote:
>>
>> See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpartisan_(American_organizations)
>>
>> ~leif
>>
>> On 11/07/2011 02:30 PM, Olya K wrote:
>> > *rationale
>> >
>> > On Mon, Nov 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM, Olya K <krasnykh at gmail.com
>> > <mailto:krasnykh at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> >
>> >     Sorry for possibly a stupid question, but could someone elaborate on
>> >     the rational behind this law, if there is any?
>> >
>> >     Thanks,
>> >     Olya
>> >
>> >     On Sun, Nov 6, 2011 at 10:47 AM, Rubin Abdi <rubin at starset.net
>> >     <mailto:rubin at starset.net>> wrote:
>> >
>> >         For greater justice an anon has already edited the page to
>> > remove
>> >         questionable content.
>> >
>> >         --
>> >         Rubin
>> >         rubin at starset.net <mailto:rubin at starset.net>
>> >
>> >
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>> >
>> >
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