Re: Questions for candidates

On 2015-05-29 19:35, Magdalen Berns wrote:
Hi Karen,

Thanks for your input.

Also, we are not allowed to work for or against specific candidates
for office.

I think you are correct about this. Am I right in assuming that only
applies to political parties in the USA, then?

I don't know -- for that you should check with a lawyer.

As I recall the regs are silent as to whether the restriction on endorsing or opposing political candidates is limited to the US. I once found some IRS guidance that said that that it is applicable internationally too. I would definitely consult a lawyer before any United States c3 charity takes on any political activity.

I think we signed up to the EU "fix my documents" initiative and I
would really hope we could continue to support work like that without
it being an issue. My guess would be that putting our name to that
sort of campaign should be okay, since advocating a legislative
amendment does not cost us anything, is not strictly endorsing a
specific political party and is hopefully not likely to be considered
a significant enough kind of lobbying activity, but do you think it
would be a good idea for us to check with a Lawyer before doing that
sort of thing, in future?

I think it's a good idea to check any lobbying or political involvement of the charity by a lawyer. As Richard said, there is a difference between non-partisan education and lobbying or political activity (and there's some amount of lobbying that can be permitted). Here are two brief summaries from the IRS:

I am now also wondering whether I should write to the California
Department of Justice to double check that directors are allowed to be
a member of a political party outside the USA just in case I manage
get elected onto the board. Does this seem like a sensible idea? As
disclosed in my candidacy statement, I am a member of the Scottish
National Party who run the Scottish Government which can sometimes
mean being personally involved with election campaigns, proposing
amendments and voting on proposals as a delegate on behalf of my ward.

These restrictions are US federal rules related to GNOME's 501c3 tax status, not the CA rules (there are different kinds of rules that CA imposes on us).

Your personal views and other affiliations should not be problematic so long as they are not connected to your role within the GNOME Foundation... but do you intend to make political statements or lobby in your capacity as a GNOME Foundation director if you are elected? That would be very relevant. See this FAQ on the IRS site for more information:

Also, I should make it clear that this is not legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer about your personal obligations if you are uncertain. As you can probably see, there's a lot of information available on the IRS site too if you'd like to educate yourself (I don't think I'll have time for more back and forth on this issue).

While I am not running for another board term and have limited time, I still intend to be available as pro bono counsel to GNOME when the new board takes office. I also am happy to continue to help coordinate other pro bono counsel, as I have done for the last number of years.


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