Saturday, September 27, 2008
The Chicago Tribune reports on questions raised after the head of an Indianapolis nonprofit appeared in an ad for Mitch Daniels, Indiana Governor and a candidate for re-election. In the ad, Sharon Pierce, the president and CEO of the Villages, an organization that provides child and family services throughout Indiana, speaks about the incumbent governor's support for child protection. During Gov. Daniels' administration, the Villages received a two-year, $12 million contract.
The news article does not specifically describe the content of the ad, but it sounds like Pierce's connection with the Villages was used in the ad. The article does say that nothing in the ad clearly indicates that Pierce is speaking in her individual capacity, but it also sounds like Pierce does not say that she's speaking on behalf of the organization. Although Pierce's participation may by ok under a strict reading of the rules against participation by charities in political campaigns, the decision to appear in the ad seems ill-advised. The resulting bad publicity may hurt her organization, even if the IRS is satisfied that the ad did not violate the 501(c)(3) rules.