Friday, July 19, 2013
Lost in the IRS storm was the news that New York recently adopted new regulations that will require many nonprofit groups, including Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(4) organizations, to disclosure their contributions and expenditures relating to sate and local electioneering. NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the rules, which are effective immediately. The activities reached by the rules are "election related expenditures," which include both "express election advocacy" and "election targeted issue advocacy," by any organization that is tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c) except for 501(c)(3) organizations. More specifically, according to the AG's summary of the regulations:
- Express Advocacy means "advertisements and other communications that call specifically for (or are susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as a call for) the election or defeat of a particular candidate, referendum, or party."
- Election Targeted Issue Advocacy means "communications made within 45 days of a primary election or 90 days of a general election that identify or depict particular candidates, referenda, or parties by name, but do not explicitly call for their election or defeat."
Covered communications include essentially all paid advertising, as well as telephone communications that reach 1,000 or more households, mailings that reach 5,000 or more recipients, and other printed materials that exceed 5,000 copies. If the amount spent reaches $10,000 in a year, then each expenditure of $50 or more and each contributor who gives $1,000 or more must be disclosed. Exceptions exist for candidate forums and certain member communications, as well as for information already publicly disclosed through another agency. There will also be a waiver application process in the event there is a reasonable likelihood that disclosure of donors "will cause undue harm, threats, harassment or reprisals."