As if nonprofit advocacy weren’t squelched enough . . .

it’s now being used as a reason for keeping knowledgeable nonprofit executives out of positions of influence with a friendly administration.

Advocacy is part of the business of being a nonprofit in a democracy–part of, you should pardon the expression, mission.  It shouldn’t be confused with the legalized bribery which passes for lobbying in the for-profit world.

The argument that the President’s anti-lobbying rule can’t be applied only to for-profit lobbying–that citizens wouldn’t understand the distinction being made–is nonsense.  And it’s shocking to hear it being made by the same people who, as campaign officials, operated on the assumption that the American people are smart enough to hear the truth and make decisions based on it.  Usually it’s a good thing when senior officials move from campaign mode to governing, but in this case–not so much.

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Addendum: The New York Times editorial board agrees.

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3 Responses to “As if nonprofit advocacy weren’t squelched enough . . .”

  1. Mitch Nauffts Says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Kelly. And I love that opening graph — so much so that I chose it for our Quote of the Week:

    http://pndblog.typepad.com/pndblog/

    Hope you don’t mind.

    (I’d link to this post from the quote if TypePad would let me; alas, it doesn’t.)

    • Nonprofiteer Says:

      Thanks so much! May our common efforts rescue “advocacy” from the dirty-word category into which it’s been consigned.

  2. Yana Davis Says:

    As a veteran of DC and the Lewis Carroll culture that permeates Babylon-by-the-Potomac, it’s not a shock that all nonprofit executives would be lumped in with real lobbyists. Even in DC, people aren’t quite sure who is who.

    The confusion comes from the fact there are two distinct kinds of NGOs in Washington. The first is the standard nonprofit which includes organizations such as Red Cross, United Way, but also includes think tanks which have ideological axes to grind such as Brookings, Cato, Heritage, etc. Think tanks push the envelope as far as it can legally go in many instances without crossing the line into legally-defined “lobbying” activities.

    Then, you have the outright lobbyists, many of them attorneys, who do not benefit from nonprofit status but whose firms and organizations do get support for their activities from various special interests. This group includes trade organizations, PACs, and so forth and yes, many of them live along K Street, strategically situated about halfway between the White House and Capitol Hill. (If you want a cab in DC, stand on K street anywhere between 20th and 10th and it won’t be more than 20 to 30 seconds before one will spot you and pull over.)

    Rationally, the anti-lobbying rule should not apply to executives of nonprofits, but they’re being made to help pay for the sins of the Faustians and fellow travelers who inhabit K street and other dins of sin in DC. A nice letter writing campaign to President Obama might help change that, providing the staffer opening the mail can be made to understand the difference.

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