ICYMI: Lujan Grisham Letter to the Editor of Washington Post on Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), a member of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, penned a letter to the editor of the Washington Post in response to a December 2 editorial on recently-proposed guidelines for tax-exempt social welfare groups organized under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Social welfare groups can advocate for policy, not politics

The Post missed the mark in its Dec. 2 editorial “For the common good,” on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) proposed guidelines regarding the candidate-related political activity of tax-exempt social welfare organizations. The Post urged the IRS to be cautious in setting boundaries on the “proportion of a social welfare group’s activity that can be devoted to politics” and argued that “social welfare groups ought to be allowed some voice in political affairs.”

Social welfare groups can engage in unlimited issue advocacy, which provides them ample opportunity to engage in policy-making. This will not change. Candidate-related political activities, however, are a different matter. The IRS asks the question, “How much campaign-related money should we allow social welfare groups to spend in our elections while hiding their donors?” The right answer is none.

In fact, the IRS already applies that standard for similar groups. Charities are prohibited from engaging in any campaign activities. The simplest solution would be for the IRS to apply that same model to social welfare organizations. This would increase transparency in our political system, ensure that the IRS is using clear standards to evaluate social welfare groups and prevent these groups from straying from their social welfare mission.

Michelle Lujan Grisham is the lead sponsor of the 501(c)(4) Reform Act.

According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Rep. Lujan Grisham’s 501(c)(4) Reform Act will “rein in anonymous or ‘dark money’ spending” by prohibiting “501(c)(4) entities from participating or intervening in any political campaign. The legislation solves the problem of entities using (c)(4) organizations as anonymous pass-through entities, by restoring the Congress’ original intent in enacting section (c)(4) of the Tax Code.”

For more information on Congresswoman Lujan Grisham’s 501(c)(4) Reform Act, click HERE.