There’s a reason why none of us at TAC will endorse a candidate or tell you not to vote for a candidate, even though most of us have opinions about that. That reason is that we are a publication of a 501(c)3 non-profit institution, and we can’t do that without endangering our status. We can talk about candidates and causes, but we have to be careful about endorsing any of them, or appearing to do so.
In March of last year, Politico reported that National Review was becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which would enable it to solicit tax-deductible donations: “Since its launch, the magazine has operated as a not-for-profit business, even as it came to rely on more and more donations in recent years. Starting next month, it will become a nonprofit organization, which will make it exempt from federal taxes. National Review also plans to merge with the nonprofit National Review Institute, its sister organization, according to a source with knowledge of the plans.”
Rich Lowry averred that the shift would be good for the magazine, which was fighting a costly lawsuit and had never been profitable anyway. “We’re a mission and a cause, not a profit-making business,” he told Politico. “The advantage of the move is that all the generous people who give us their support every year will now be able to give tax-deductible contributions, and that we will be able to do more fundraising, in keeping with our goal to keep growing in the years ahead.’”
This anti-Trump issue of National Review is, in effect, a campaign pamphlet directed against a political candidate—indeed, the cover proclaims “Against Trump”—and, as such, is in clear violation of IRS statutes regulating nonprofit organizations.
The regulations are quite explicit that nonprofit organizations must “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.”
He goes on in more detail. It’s worth reading. I presume NR had the issue lawyered before publishing it, and the magazine’s lawyers decided that the issue was an instance of commentary, not partisan advocacy, re: the tax laws. Are any of you readers of this blog tax attorneys specializing in non-profits? How risky a move was this by NR?
UPDATE: Well, this is a relief. Apparently Politico’s story was wrong. National Review‘s publisher says:
NRO is not 501c3. It is a for-profit corporation. https://t.co/lIhinZUfc8
— Jack Fowler (@jackfowler) January 23, 2016
UPDATE.2: In the comments, Justin Raimondo disputes Jack Fowler’s claim. Read on…