You're correct, 501(c)(3) organizations can occasionally engage in limited issue advocacy. But it's only permitted under a very limited set of guidelines.
Originally Posted by Jack Hays
The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.
On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.
The Central Valley Tea Party does much more than issue advocacy. You can't support a party platform and call it issue advocacy. This is taken from their website, though they have since taken it down. (The internet wayback machine is a VERY useful tool). These are the reasons they give to join their group on April 5th, 2009. At the time, both congress and the presidency were controlled by Democrats.
What is this about?click here for more information about why you should join us
Are you fed up with a Congress and a president who:
- Vote for a $500 billion tax bill without even reading it?
- Are spending trillions of borrowed dollars, leaving a debt our great-grandchildren will be paying?
- Consistently give special interest groups billions of dollars in earmarks to help get themselves re-elected?
- Want to take your wealth and redistribute it to others?
- Punish those who practice responsible financial behavior and reward those who do not?
- Admit to using the financial hurt of millions as an opportunity to push their political agenda?
- Run up trillions of dollars of debt and then sell that debt to countries such as China?
- Want government controlled health care?
- Want to take away the right to vote with a secret ballot in union elections?
- Refuse to stop the flow of millions of illegal immigrants into our country?
- Appoint a defender of child pornography to the Number 2 position in the Justice Department?
- Want to force doctors and other medical workers to perform abortions against their will?
- Want to impose a carbon tax on your electricity, gas and home heating fuels?
- Want to reduce your tax deductibility for charitable gifts?
- Take money from your family budget to pay for their federal budget?
And yet this group was approved by the IRS....