Recently, it has come to my attention that several clubs or groups have refused to discuss certain issues because they involved politics. Any dealings with any governmental entity, by definition, are political. Because of certain practices by candidates for political office, the term has taken on a negative connotation. There is a very definite distinction between "advocacy" and "education" as it relates to political activity.
Under Federal Regulations, particularly those relating to permitted activities by tax exempt (IRS 502(c)(3)) organizations, there is a clear distinction between activities relating to candidates and those relating to issues.
These regulations absolutely prohibit advocacy for or against any political candidate. However, they do permit education about the candidates where all candidates are treated equally and fairly. An illustration of this is the candidate forums where all candidates are permitted to present their views.
The regulations concerning issues are not as restrictive.
A tax exempt organization is permitted to advocate for or against pending legislation, affecting their constituency provided it is not a major part of their activity. Education concerning political issues is encouraged. This is where the issues are presented, explaining them, presenting the positive and negative implications without advocating a particular desired vote. In some cases the desired vote is obvious. The difference being that the public will be making an informed decision, rather than an emotional or uninformed decision.
Getting down to specifics, the government mandated wording for Proposition 300. The Alternative Expenditure Limitation is not easy to understand. Plain language explanation of this proposition is needed for the voters of Payson to understand what they are voting for or against.
All organizations should make the effort to find out how any issue would affect them and their members and ensure that the necessary information is made available so they can make informed decisions on how to vote.
John Wilson, Payson