Free Speech Coalition &
Free Speech Defense and Education Fund
Selected Activities 2003
Challenging Regulatory Abuse
In January, FSDEF filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging regulatory action against nonprofits by the Illinois Attorney General in Ryan v. Telemarketing, Inc.
Curtailing Regulatory Appetites
In January, FSC submitted comments to the New York State Senate Committee on Consumer Protection, expressing constitutional concerns regarding proposed new changes to the state solicitation law.
Seeking Responsible Reform
In February, FSC submitted comments to the President’s Commission on the United States Postal Service expressing concern over 1) the USPS claim of judicial non-reviewability of its administrative decisions, and 2) the danger of granting governmental powers to an agency not under the authority of the President of the United States.
Challenging Regulatory Abuse
In March, the court ruled solidly against the US Postal Service in the USPS claim of immunity from legal challenge regarding decisions associated with nonprofit mail, thus denying due process to nonprofits appealing decisions regarding mailability of materials at the preferred nonprofit postage rate. FSDEF filed the sole amicus brief with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the case of Aid Association for Lutherans v. U. S. Postal Service. This decision was a major victory for nonprofit mailers.
Understanding Legislative Confusion
In March, FSC prepared a background paper (8 page memo and 100+ pages of attachments) providing vital legal research for nonprofits who seek to use Congressional signers for their fund raising letters. The background paper addressed the ambiguities of the new Federal Campaign Finance Laws (BCRA) which caused Members of Congress to be hesitant about the legality of signing fund raising letters for nonprofits.
Protecting Free Speech
In May, FSC submitted comments to the Federal Election Commission, and later testified in person, addressing four areas in which the FEC procedures unfairly treat subjects of FEC investigation.
Preventing Abuse of the Cooperative Mailing Rule
In June, FSC submitted comments to the USPS regarding their proposed Eligibility Requirements for Certain Nonprofit Standard Mail Matter (Cooperative Mailing Rule), recommending three changes, without which, mailers using no-risk or shared risk contracts with their fund raisers, would not have been allowed to use the preferred nonprofit postage rate for such non-solicitation mail packages as thank-you letters, educational mailings, etc. FSC recommendations were mostly adopted and a favorable final rule was issued by the USPS in October. New challenges to this final rule were raised by a small group of Members of Congress in November. In response, FSC submitted new testimony to the Senate Hearings on Postal Reform. To date, October’s final rule is still in effect.
Protecting Free Speech in Lobbying
FSC continued participation in regular coalition strategy and lobbying meetings seeking to amend the Internal Revenue Code to eliminate the needless and costly distinction between direct and grass roots lobbying by nonprofits. Non-FSC coalition members widely credited FSC with key activities which resulted in passage by both the US House and Senate of language achieving our tax code goal. However, due to disagreements over provisions unrelated to our language, the bill has not yet been resolved in a Conference Committee and submitted for final passage.
Protecting Against State Regulatory Fishing Expeditions
FSC worked behind the scenes with two organizations who had received demands from state regulatory officials for massive document submissions, including donor lists, all because one citizen questioned the accuracy of rhetoric contained in fund raising letters. After considerable consultation, it seems those regulatory officials now agree their demands were excessive and inappropriate.
Planting Seeds for Future Harvest
FSC leaders held meetings with various state legislators to explore ways to reduce unnecessary and costly state regulation of nonprofits and their service providers.
Sharing Information and Planning Strategy
FSC continued to educate nonprofits, vendors and fund raising agencies about the threat of excessive regulation, as well as educate regulators about the adverse consequences of many of their policies. FSC sent its e-mail legislative alerts and advisory messages to numerous members and non-members. FSC held six leadership breakfast meetings to plan its strategy and track key issues.