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A “joke,” and other characterizations.

With Ford Foundation funding in 1967, Congress of Racial Equality executive director Floyd McKissick “explained that CORE intended ‘to move politically at first.’ CORE’s first order of business was to register Cleveland’s black voters days before the deadline in preparation for the second Carl Stokes mayoral run.”

—       Nishani Frazier, Harambee City: The Congress of Racial Equality in Cleveland and the Rise of Black Power Populism (University of Arkansas Press, 2017)


“In several instances called to the Congress’ attention, funds were spent in a ways clearly designed to favor certain candidates. In some cases, this was done by financing registration campaigns in limited geographical areas. …

“The Act forbids private foundations to spend money for lobbying, electioneering (unless certain standards are met, this includes voter registration drives), … and for any purpose other than the exempt purposes of private foundations. Any improper expenditure is subject to tax.”

       General Explanation of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, December 3, 1970, prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation


“Because the tax code allowed nonprofit organizations to run registration and turnout drives as long as they did not push a particular candidate, organizing ‘historically disenfranchised’ communities (as Carnegie described them) became a backdoor approach to ginning up Democratic votes outside the campaign finance laws that applied to candidates, parties, and political action committees.”

—       Sasha Issenberg, The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns (Crown Publishing, 2012)


“Liberal and conservative nonprofit groups alike need objective standards, like those outlined by the Bright Lines Project, to determine what is and is not permissible political activity for tax exempt organizations.”

       Craig Holman, Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, “IRS’ Targeting of Liberal Groups Shows Further Need to Enact Bright Line Rules on Political Activity,” October 5, 2017


“I don’t think they’re interested in democracy. They’re interested in electing the candidates that they like, and they’re calling it democracy. Donald Trump, who they don’t like, got elected, and so they decided there’s something wrong with democracy.” 

—       William E. Simon Foundation president James Piereson, quoted in Alex Daniels, “Donors Step Up Giving to Influence 2020 Voting,” Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 31, 2020


“In his apartment in the D.C. suburbs,” the AFL-CIO’s Mike Podhorzer “began working from his laptop at his kitchen table, holding back-to-back Zoom meetings for hours a day with his network of contacts across the progressive universe: the labor movement; the institutional left, like Planned Parenthood and Greenpeace; resistance groups like Indivisible and MoveOn; progressive data geeks and strategists, representatives of donors and foundations, state-level grassroots organizers, racial-justice activists and others.”

—       Molly Ball, “The Secret Bipartisan Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election,” Time, February 4, 2021 (italics supplied)


Nonprofit organizations “have also become political slush funds. The Clinton Foundation is a good example, though they exist on both sides of the political aisle. You have Hillary Clinton come give a $500,000, 20-minute speech, which you deduct from your taxes, or give them a big gift. That goes to the foundation, and the foundation supports her army of helpers when out of office. It’s a subsidized, tax-financed, political-advocacy and slush fund for political characters.”

       Hoover Institution senior fellow John Cochrane, “A conversation with Hoover Institution senior fellow John H. Cochrane,” The Giving Review, April 12, 2021


“Sometimes the play is to toe the line between philanthropy and politics. The inconspicuously named Voter Participation Center, a 501(c)3, and its allied dark-money brother, the Center for Voter Information, were favorites of Silicon Valley donors and collected $85 million and $49 million respectively in 2020—far more than the $14 million and $6 million they raised in 2016. C.E.O. Tom Lopach stresses that “increasing civic engagement is not a partisan endeavor.” Both groups are nonprofits, but they are led by longtime Democratic operatives like Lopach, funded by Democratic Party donors, and work to turn out voters who are likely Democrats. Are these philanthropies?”

--       Theodore Schleifer, “Inside the Dems’ Dark Money Machine,” Puck, November 30, 2021


“I know: Tax-deductible gifts to 501(c)(3)s supposedly can’t be used for electoral work. But that law is a joke. Any donor who does a little homework can find lots of ways to make ‘charitable’ donations that help their political party.”

       Blue Tent founder and editor David Callahan, December 18, 2021, e-mail to Blue Tent readers


“If you give money to a candidate, if you engage in lobbying, whether it’s an individual or business you don’t get to save taxes on that. But if I give to charity and it does it, … that’s a way around the fact that usually you don’t get a tax deduction for engaging in political activity, certain kinds of political activity. That’s part of the reason the limits exist on charities engaging in politics ….”

—       Notre Dame law professor Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, “A conversation with Notre Dame law professor Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Part 1 of 2),” The Giving Review, February 14, 2022

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