Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Nonprofits that helped Nader in Oregon may be in trouble with FEC

Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Oregon Family Council are 501(c)(4) tax-exempt "not-for-profit" corporations. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washingon has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against the groups for potential FEC violations. Spokesmen for both groups have denied wrongdoing but acknowledged their efforts in trying to influence Nader's petition drive last Saturday in Portland, Oregon.

Salon.com's Joe Conason has written an excellent piece and the Associated Press also covered the story today. Nonprofitblog contacted the charitable activities section of the Oregon Attorney General's office and learned that 501(c)(4) groups have more leeway than 501(c)(3) groups in that they may conduct both political and lobbying activity. As long as the activity is not "substantial", the AG does not get involved. However, the spokesman indicated that the groups may indeed be violating the McCain Feingold campaign finance laws. Stay tuned as this plays out at the FEC over the next few weeks.

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