Non-Profit "Soft Money" Contribution Limit Rejected
What inspires the formation of a non-profit? Often, it is the desire to address a cause, support specific reform, and make a statement. Well, non-profits who choose to make themselves heard by funding state and local candidates received a nod from the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia this week.
The case was brought by Emily's List, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion. The D.C. court held that Federal Election Commission (F.E.C.) rules restricting the amount of "soft money" contributions-- unlimited donations by companies, individuals, unions, and political action groups to non-profits-- used to fund candidates violated the First Amendment.
The regulation under scrutiny was passed in 2005 required non-profit organizations such as Emily's List to spend "hard money" rather than soft money to fund election-related activities. Hard money refers to the donations raised that were subject to limitations. For example, money raised according to the regulation capping contributions made by individuals to $5,000 would be considered hard money.
The case could reach the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court for final consideration and decision. For now, though, Emily's List-- and other non-profits that back candidates-- are relieved to have the law back on their side.
- Read the case: Emily's List v. FEC (FindLaw)
- U.S. court rejects election limits for non-profits (Reuters)
- Appeals court overturns campaign finance rules (AP)
- Court Strikes Down Regulations Limiting Nonprofits' Campaign Funds (Washington Post)
- Court Voids Campaign Spending Limits for Nonprofits (New York Times)
- Pros and Cons of Non-Profit 501(c)3 Incorporation (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- 5 Types of 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organizations (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
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