Independent Sector Urges FEC to Preserve Rights of Nonprofits to Speak Out on Important Issues

Independent Sector Urges FEC to Preserve Rights of Nonprofits to Speak Out on Important Issues

Independent Sector, a coalition of corporate, foundation, and voluntary organization members working to encourage giving, volunteering, and nonprofit initiatives, has urged the Federal Elections Commission to issue regulations governing the new campaign finance reform law that preserve nonprofits' ability to speak out on important issues, even at election time.

The forthcoming FEC rules on electioneering communications will affect the ability of organizations to refer to an elected official who also happens to be a candidate for federal office in a broadcast communication in the weeks leading up to an election. In its comments, IS recommended that the Commission allow communications about pending legislation when the only reference to a candidate is a request for the public to contact him or her about the legislation. IS also urged the FEC to clarify that contact information for the elected official can be included in the communication, so long as the recommended address or phone number is not the candidate's campaign office.

"Many critical issues are voted on during the busy time leading up to elections, and our democracy will suffer if we restrict citizen groups from speaking out about these important issues," said Sara E. Mel´┐Żndez, president and CEO of Independent Sector. "We believe the new campaign finance law will bring greater integrity to the electoral and democratic processes, but we need to apply it in a way that will still preserve nonprofit advocacy rights."

IS also recommended that the FEC include rules that would allow 501(c)(3) organizations to use broadcast media for an array of educational activities, such as public service announcements and documentaries in which a candidate for federal office may be mentioned.

For the full text of Independent Sector's comments to the FEC, visit: http://www.independentsector.org/media/programs/gr/fec802.html.