CommunityPam's House Blend

Is Gary Randall illegally advocating against Obama’s re-election on a 501(c)3’s website?

Can an inactive PAC advocate against a candidate on the website of a 501(c)3 organization? Today anti-gay activist Gary Randall posted the text below on his blog. The blog is a project of Faith and Freedom Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit. 501(c)3s are not allowed to advocate for or against particular candidates. It sure looks to me like he’s advocating against the re-election of President Obama.

Indeed. That is exactly what is at stake. And it’s terrifying to think what will transpire in America if we continue on the path this President has defined for another 4 years. …

“Let us never forget the impact the President and his people will have on our lives for decades to come,” should he be re-elected.

Let us disagree and debate who best represents our beliefs and aspirations as we consider our candidate for the next President, but may we not forget what is really at stake, and when the media manipulated debate is over and you, and you, and you, and me begin to choose who will be president, may we come together, so that America can be delivered from these terrible times of trial and tribulation and once again become the city on a hill, the guiding light, the testimony of God’s blessing, the exceptional nation.

How does that text stack up against the IRS statement saying, “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.”?

The blog post and the Faith and Freedom Network e-mail that heralded it state prominently at the top, “Paid for by Faith and Freedom Political Action Committee“. Political action committees, or PACs, are allowed to advocate for and against candidates.

The problem with Gary Randall’s arrangement however would seem that even if it is proper for a 501(c)3 to host a PAC message advocating against a candidate (is that ever proper?), the Faith and Freedom PAC hasn’t been re-activated this year, according the database of committees at Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission. A Filer Assistance Specialist at the PDC confirmed this in an e-mail to me today, stating that Faith and Freedom PAC “haven’t had any activity this year”.

Saying that a message comes from a PAC doesn’t make it true if the PAC isn’t active.

In addition to the PDC data, there is also this notice up on the Faith and Freedom PAC’s web page, indicating that Gary Randall put out a call 6 weeks ago — that hasn’t yet been answered — for help re-activating the PAC.

September 16, 2011

The administrator of the Faith and Freedom PAC has told us we need 10 registered voters in Washington State to give a minimum of $10 to the PAC to re-activate it. There is about $1000 in the account and we would like to start distributing those funds and others which will be raised in the future toward electing and re-electing those lawmakers who support conservative, Christian social values. And helping to defeat those who do not.

We cannot disburse any funds until the PAC is re-activated.

If his name sounds familiar it’s because Gary Randall is part of Protect Marriage Washington’s (think: NOM) effort to legislate in secret by exempting the Referendum 71 petitions from the state’s public disclosure laws. With Referendum 71 PMW sought and failed to repeal Washington’s 2009 domestic partnership law. Washington voters made history by becoming the first in the nation to ratify an LGBT family recognition law at the polls.

So help me out here, Blenders, because this non-profit stuff can be confusing. Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing, or have I made a mistake somewhere?

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer