Advocacy and Free Speech
“ASAE opposes expanding the definition of candidate-related political activity by tax-exempt organizations to include candidate forums and issue-related communications sent out close to elections. Recent efforts to restrict political activity by 501(c)(4) social welfare groups would regulate far more speech and advocacy than is warranted and could create a chilling effect on the role nonprofit organizations play in fostering civic engagement and democracy. ASAE also opposes any extension of new restrictions on 501(c)(4) political activity to trade associations and professional societies.” -ASAE Board Approved Position Statement #1
A provision in the House version of the tax bill would have effectively repealed the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and other 501(c)(3) groups from participating or intervening in political campaigns. The provision was removed from the final bill because it conflicted with the Senate’s Byrd Rule, which prevents reconciliation bills from containing provisions that are not fiscal in nature.
ASAE helps lead a coalition to address the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) prior-approval requirement for trade associations. The Prior Approval Reform Coalition (PARC) works to secure legislation that amends the Federal Election Campaign Act to eliminate the requirement that trade associations have prior approval from member companies before soliciting their eligible employees. PARC believes the requirement is inequitable and restricts First Amendment rights. In addition, ensuring compliance with the regulation is costly and burdensome.
In the last Congress, legislation to repeal the prior approval requirement and defund FEC enforcement of the requirement was introduced but did not pass the House. In response to the installation of the 116th Congress and its change in leadership and priorities, PARC decided to remain a loose coalition without dues for 2019 and will determine if a legal challenge may be more productive.