Proposed Constitutional Amendments 2012
On 6/13/12 the KFNA Board approved joining the coalition of organizations, churches, synagogues, governmental bodies, and businesses opposing the two constitutional amendment questions on the November 2012 ballot.
More information about opposition to the photo ID amendment
To All Neighborhood Organizations:
With the general election a few months away, many neighborhood organizations want to understand what they can and cannot do when it comes to Get Out the Vote Efforts and political activities. Neighborhood organizations can, and the Neighborhood and Community Relations (NCR) supports, work on voter registration, voter engagement and ballot initiatives. These are important and eligible community engagement activities.
We also want to remind neighborhood groups of their IRS and contractual restrictions regarding political activities. Your contracts with the City and NRP state that organizations may not engage in political activity. Partisan political activity is also prohibited by the Internal Revenue Code for all 50l(c)(3) organizations. The City uses the same rules as the IRS in our oversight of the political activities of organizations.
So what does this mean for your neighborhood organization? While there are prohibitions on what political activity 501(c)(3) organizations can engage in, there are many opportunities where neighborhood organizations can carry out vital work in relation to elections. For example:
- Neighborhood organizations can participate in voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives if they are conducted in a neutral non-partisan manner, for example, without reference to any candidate or political party.
- Neighborhood organizations can work on ballot initiatives. Neighborhoods can work on either or both of the current ballot initiative as long as the work does not appear to promote one or more candidates or a political party. Please note that working on a ballot initiative is a form of direct lobbying that is allowed for 501(c)(3) organizations, so long as the organization’s overall lobbying effort does not constitute a “substantial part” of the organization’s activities.
- Neighborhood organizations can organize non-partisan candidate forums. This means that they should ensure that each candidate is treated equally, and that no bias is evident towards one candidate or another in content of the sessions, how questions are phrased, etc.
Neighborhood organizations are restricted in participating or supporting any political campaign or political party. The IRS rules in §50l(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code state that tax-exempt organizations “may not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” Whether an organization is engaging in prohibited political campaign activity depends on the facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS rules state that the motivation of an organization is not relevant in determining whether the political campaign prohibition has been violated.
We have put together an informational FAQ for Neighborhood Organizations and Elections. The FAQ provides further details on election related activities your organization may be considering or need to address. The guide is available online at www.minneapolismn.gov/ncr.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office directly.
David M Rubedor
Director, Neighborhood and Community Relations Department
331 2nd Avenue South, Suite 220,Minneapolis, Minnesota
612.673.3129 / www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/ncr