CalNonprofits Articles

Speak Up Now to Keep Partisan Politics Away from California Nonprofits

"Sneaking major policy decisions into spending bills is always a bad policy."

From LA Times Editorial Board: "Don't weaken the ban on politics in the pulpit" (March 6, 2018)

For decades, nonprofits have been protected by the Johnson Amendment, a section of the federal tax law that separates nonprofits from electioneering and political campaigns. In exchange for their tax-exempt status and ability to accept tax deductible donations, nonprofits are prohibited from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates.

However, a provision to weaken the Johnson Amendment nearly made it into the final tax law last December. As the bill was being debated, more than 200 California nonprofits weighed in against the provision. CalNonprofits and the California Council of Churches also sent a joint letter against the provision. Fortunately, the Senate Parliamentarian put the brakes on that attempt.

But now, another attack on the Johnson Amendment is underway.

Congressional leaders are looking to roll all of their major agenda items into one massive bill that must be passed by March 23 (the expiration date of the current temporary funding bill), that is considered a "must pass" bill. The Washington Post reports that a rider to weaken the Johnson Amendment has been included in this omnibus bill. However, that rider could be left out of the final bill if Congress hears from enough of us that we don't the Johnson Amendment tampered with.

How you can help preserve nonprofit protections in the Johnson Amendment:

1) Call your Senators and Representative
Share with them that the California nonprofit community supports the Johnson Amendment because it protects nonprofits from getting dragged into electioneering and partisan politics. Urge them to oppose any attempts to attach a rider to the omnibus spending bill that would weaken or eliminate the Johnson Amendment. You can reach your senators and representative by calling the Capitol switchboard (202) 225-3121, and asking to be connected to your elected officials.

2) Contact your Representative and Senators on Twitter
You can find your Representative or Senator using this website. Be sure to start your tweet with a period before the politician's twitter handle so that it will be seen by more than just you and the politician.

Here's two sample tweets you can use (just substitute in your representative) and if you include us (@CalNonprofits) in your tweet, we'll magnify your advocacy by retweeting you.

.@DevinNunes, California #nonprofits are effective b/c they focus on #CommunityNotCandidates. We urge NO weakening of #JohnsonAmendment in omnibus spending bill: http://bit.ly/2nV6SQI

.@SenFeinstein, California #nonprofits are counting on you to maintain the #JohnsonAmendment to keep a clear line between partisan politics and #nonprofits: http://bit.ly/2nV6SQI


Thank you for your advocacy on this important issue, and we anticipate reaching out to you again with updates in the coming weeks.

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