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July 31, 2007


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If all corporations were willing to forgo participation in the political process, then perhaps we would have something.

On the other hand, non-profits can and should have a strong role in the building of civic society through the support of education and development of citizens within a space of civic engagement. Not so much for partisan politics, but this broader space, yes, give us more effective institutions.


What they are talking about is lobbying candidates and funnelling money to them.


Synchronicity. I just finished blogging about a related issuse at WCT. I think you put it well, Gerry. There's a distinction to be made between politicking for one party or another and the strengthening of civil society against narrow interests. I'm afraid Eisenberg's position will be taken as a critique of nonprofit involvement in the political sphere, where "political" is interpreted broadly. I know that wasn't his intention.


Actually as is typical of this sort of exchange, the discussion is not limited to partisan involvements and funding candidates. It ranges all over the place and particularly the Eisenberg piece is not careful about mixing them up in a single sentence. When he suggests that the IRS is going after non-profits and that is "good", it is pretty clear that we are in a danger zone particularly with an administration that has shown no restraint in using the government agencies including Justice as political arms.

Egger isn't careful enough either. The case for a corporation using stockholder assets to influence candidates is just as weak as the case for a non-profit. But neither side will likely bring this up. I don't understand why he gets so close to this argument and leaves it alone.


Yes, building civil society, strengthening citizen engagement, building awareness of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, helping the polity to reaffirm our social compact, that is essential to the work of nonprofits. Lobbying should be secondary and restricted or our nonprofits will be drawn into the unholy mess in DC, as one more way for the wealthy to funnel cash to political allies. Campaign Finance Reform would be a better focus, as it was with Pew, though, of course, that drew Bill Schambra's ire since it impacted his wealthy funders.

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