1997 IN REVIEW:
I make no apologies whatsoever for
defending the rights of Americans to participate in our
political system. &emdash; U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell
Federal Legislation Threatened Nonprofits
Campaign finance reform legislation did not at first appear to be of common concern to FSC members, but some bills contained provisions that would restrict or prohibit political free speech and issue advocacy, thus limiting the freedom of groups to communicate with their members and supporters, as well as with the public, before an election. Some bills sought to redefine the term "express advocacy," removing the "explicit" requirement, and giving FEC bureaucrats arbitrary power to determine whether a communication was express advocacy.
The Voter Empowerment Act (H.R. 1780), introduced by Congressman David Dreier, would require organizations who do issue advocacy to disclose their funding sources.
Two FSC members, Doug Johnson of National
Right to Life and Mike Beard of the Coalition to Stop Gun
Violence, authored a monograph entitled, "Campaign Reform:
Let's Not Give Politicians the Power to Decide What We Can
Say about Them," asserting that certain "campaign reform"
legislation proposed by Congress violates the First
Congressional Hearings Threatened Nonprofits and
Legal Analysis in Opposition to Senate
Subpoenas Released. FSC legal co-counsel Mark Weinberg and
FSC member Michael Boos, Legal Director of the National
Citizens Legal Network, wrote legal analyses which gave
practical advice to nonprofits who were targets of the U.S.
Senate's Special Investigation. FSC legal co-counsel Bill
Olson authored a commentary on the Senate subpoenas for the
FSC and FSC Members Influenced FEC & IRS
The FEC requested and received from FSC comments on its proposed new definition of "member" for any association with a connected PAC.
The Internal Revenue Service asked
for and received from FSC comments on raising the income
threshold to allow many more nonprofits to be exempt from
filing a Form 990.
New Laws, Rules, Regulations and Requirements
The U.S. Supreme Court issued Rule 37.6,
requiring anyone who files an amicus brief to indicate "in
the first footnote on the first page of text" the name of
the author and "every person or entity...who made a monetary
contribution to the preparation and submission of the
AICPA Released New Accounting Standards for Joint Cost
Federal & State Efforts to Limit Free Speech
Vermont's new campaign regulation law places limits on political campaign spending, and attempts to regulate issue advocacy if state bureaucrats determine that informing the public about an official's vote on an issue was done to indirectly affect the election. The new law challenges the U.S. Supreme Court's 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo.
The Clinton Administration sought to find the right legal case to overturn the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo, in which the Court ruled that limitations on issue advocacy are unconstitutional because they abridge freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. As Buckley affirmed, the heart of free speech is the expression of political beliefs.
Being free to engage in unlimited
political expression subject to a ceiling on expenditures is
like being free to drive an automobile as far and as often
as one desires on a single tank of gasoline. &emdash; U.S.
Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo, 1976.
Court Decisions Affecting
FSC Member Scored Victory Against North Carolina
Up-To-Date Information on State Charitable
California: The Attorney General released his "Report on Charitable Solicitation by Commercial Fundraisers," which has been criticized by FSC.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Perry v. Los Angeles Police Department, 96-55545, ruled that a Los Angeles ordinance limiting solicitation for donations to registered non-profit organizations was unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment. The City of Los Angeles then repealed the requirement for information cards for nonprofit solicitation.
Illinois: The Attorney General released his "Professional Fundraising Report" (1995), which has been criticized by FSC.
Nebraska repealed its Charitable Solicitor registration laws in response to a State Supreme Court decision which invalidated large portions of the laws.
New Hampshire: FSC hired local counsel to research the oppressive new law affecting registration and regulation of nonprofits. The AG's "Report on Charitable Fundraising Campaigns in New Hampshire" may have prompted the changes to the law.
North Carolina issued its "1995 Detailed Summary of Professional Solicitors Activities in North Carolina from Final Accounting Reports Received Between May 1, 1995 & April 30, 1996."
Oklahoma had problems with nonprocessing of registration applications. There remains the possibility of legislation that would amend the state charitable solicitation laws. FSC retained attorneys who may resume work on this project in 1998.
Wisconsin has intrusive regulations controlling issue advocacy. There is a movement to increase registration requirements on agencies, and increase monitoring of nonprofits.
FSC issued informative brochure on high
cost of state regulations. Because many state legislators
lack understanding of the negative effects so-called
"consumer protection" legislation has on nonprofits, members
of FSC's diverse Leadership Group helped write and edit an
informative brochure entitled, Consumer Protection or
Bureaucratic Racket? Why Does More Than $100,000,000 A Year
Go To Pay Bureaucrats Rather Than To The Causes For Which
They Were Intended?
FSDEF ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOR 1997:
FSDEF Rallied Support For Challenge to Utah
Another brief in support of ATA was filed by FSC member Bruce Eberle, Chairman of Bruce W. Eberle & Associates, Inc. His attorney, F. Hayden Codding, wrote the Amicus brief.
After the FSDEF and Eberle Amicus briefs were filed on November 25, 1997, many state attorneys general must have become concerned that ATA might win the case. They immediately asked the judge to grant a six-week extension (which he did) to allow them time to file a counter amicus brief. On January 6, 1998, attorneys general from 16 states, two secretaries of state, and one county attorney sent their Memorandum of Amici Curiae to the U.S. District Court in Utah.
We have high hopes that ATA will win this case, and that the decision will provide a strong precedent for challenging unconstitutional regulations in states and localities. A court hearing is set for April 10, 1998.