[Foundation-l] Politico: "Wikimedia foundation hires lobbyists on sopa, pipa"

Gregory Varnum gregory.varnum at gmail.com
Sun Jan 22 19:24:23 UTC 2012

Basically a charity in the USA can spend up to 20% of its expenses on "direct lobbying" of related issues.  Basically that means they can say "this is good and that's good" - but they can't actually endorse a party or individual.  They can educate on that person - "so and so wants to do this" - but they can't then so "so vote for ABC instead" or anything along those lines.  It can get a little trick if an org speaks on an issue that is in no way connected to their mission - but SOPA/PIPA and just about any technology related legislation falls within WMF's mission.

Essentially on SOPA/PIPA - this is absolutely within US law and it seems incredibly unlikely given WMF's budget that any of these expenses would ever come close to 20%.  :)

-greg aka varnent

On Jan 22, 2012, at 1:00 PM, Gwern Branwen wrote:

> On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM, Pedro Sanchez <pdsanchez at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'm worried that we may be getting in trouble.
>> I don't know about US laws, but are charitable organizations allowed
>> to meddle in political lobbying?
>> I'd appreciate if more knowledgeable people could give us some light.
> It's perfectly allowed, and we're allowed to take positions on
> specific bills - it is just that lobbying cannot be a 'substantial
> part' of the WMF's activities unless it switches its charity type.
> (Googling around, I was reading
> http://www.asaecenter.org/Resources/whitepaperdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=12202
> and http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicp97.pdf )
> -- 
> gwern
> http://www.gwern.net/In%20Defense%20Of%20Inclusionism
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> foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org
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