Every once in awhile the editors at Beyondchron feel a compulsion to include a disclamer at the end of their articles, like this:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Hogarth has volunteered—outside of work hours—for David Chiu’s District 3 campaign, but does not play an advisory or strategic role. He did not consult with the Chiu campaign when writing this article.
Why do they do this? It’s because Beyondchron is part of a 501.c.3 non profit corporation, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, and are prohibited legally from endorsing a candidate. Beyondchron is probably the only online (self proclaimed) news source/political blog in San Francisco that cannot endorse a candidate. Every other publication, including Bluoz can do that except for Beyondchron. It’s very ironic for free speech advocates who took a free speech issue all the way to the Supreme Court to be the same entity who cannot engage in that same free speech around election time.
For people that already know this, it’s quite amusing to see Randy Shaw and Paul Hogarth do a figurative language dance around the issue of endorsing candidates, sort of appearing to support this or that candidate, but not actually saying “we endorse”. There are many ways to endorse without actually endorsing, right? You’re expecting something else from attorney’s?
The issue isn’t limited to Beyondchron of course and includes churches. It would be entertaining to say the least, to one day see attorneys at “progressive” Beyondchron become bedfellows with attorneys for Pat Robertson over the right to endorse a candidate
Proposals have been introduced in Congress that would permit houses of worship to engage in partisan politicking including endorsing or opposing candidates yet allow the religious institutions to retain their tax-exempt status. One measure, Rep. Walter Jones’ “Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act,” was drafted with input by attorneys with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice and is backed by numerous Religious Right organizations.
The only thing houses of worship (and all non profits including Beyondchron) may not do is endorse or oppose candidates for public office or use their resources in partisan campaigns. This restriction, which is found in federal tax law, is not limited to churches and other religious ministries. In fact, it is applied to every non-profit organization in the country that holds a tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Contrary to the claims of many in the Religious Right, the IRS is not singling out houses of worship for special regulation. Thousands of educational, scientific, charitable and literary organizations hold the 501(c)(3) status, and all must abide by the legal requirement barring involvement in elections.
Why does this rule exist? The answer is obvious upon a moment’s reflection:
Non-profit organizations receive tax exemption because their work is charitable, educational or religious. That tax benefit comes with conditions. One requirement is that tax-exempt organizations refrain from involvement in partisan politics. This is a reasonable rule, since tax-exempt groups are supposed to work for the public good, not spend their time and money trying to elect or defeat candidates.
This regulation is also designed to protect the integrity of the election process. Special types of organizations already exist to help political hopefuls win public office. Those groups, such as Political Action Committees, have a different tax status and are organized under a different set of rules than 501(c)(3) groups, rules designed to ensure that the nation’s campaign-finance laws are followed. Blurring the distinction between these two types of organizations would harm both religion and politics.
How does a non profit endorse a candidate without endorsing a candidate?. Kind of like issuing a non denial denial? Is it possible to use your taxpayer money to influence your political decisions? These and other questions keep non profit leaders awake late at night, tossing and turning
So when you read Beyondchron, keep in mind why they can’t say certain things and amuse yourself with the legal language endorsement dance over hot coals and ask yourself this. Do you know of any other tax exempt non profit charity group in the San Francisco Bay Area that publishes anything remotely similar to the amount of political talk that Beyondchron – Tenderloin Housing Clinic does? Ever see Glide or Goodwill do anything like this? Childrens Hospital? Ronald Mcdonald House? Toys for Tots? SF Food bank?