By Tim Delaney and Vikki Spruill, Opinion Contributor | March 22, 2017
Washington, D.C. may be the most partisan place on earth, where anything and everything is judged by which political party you support, rather than the substance of what’s being discussed. Well, thank goodness that perspective is not shared by our nation’s charitable nonprofits and foundations, because it would prevent us from addressing the real-life challenges in every community across America.
Our charitable and philanthropic communities are neither partisan nor bipartisan; we are nonpartisan in law and in practice. And to protect the common good, we must keep it that way.
We say “thank goodness,” but more correctly should say, “thank you, Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson,” for our nonpartisanship. Much has been written lately about the “Johnson Amendment,” a provision in Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code that prohibits charitable nonprofits, religious congregations, and foundations from endorsing or opposing candidates for political office or spending resources to support or oppose candidates.
That language in tax law was proposed as an amendment by then-Senate Minority Leader Johnson, adopted without controversy by the Republican-controlled Senate, passed by a Republican-controlled Congress, and signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954. The United States has been better for it ever since.”