Emory Report

September 25, 2000

 Volume 53, No.5

University not allowed to make political campaign donations

By Michael Terrazas

University General Counsel Kent Alexander has issued an advisory for Emory employees specifying the restrictions under which they are placed with regard to political campaign contributions.

"We have the election season upon us, and people kept asking about contributions," Alexander said.

As a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, Emory is strictly prohibited from contributing to political candidates or political parties. Failure to comply with these rules established by the Internal Revenue Service could result in a change in the University's tax-exempt status, according to Alexander.

But the prohibition does not extend to individuals acting in a private capacity, and Emory encourages all members of the community to participate in the electoral process if they wish to do so.

Anyone wanting to make campaign contributions at any level-local, state or federal-should adhere to the following guidelines:

· Institutional fundraising is prohibited in all circumstances.

· In making political contributions, no member of the Emory community may use the University's financial resources, facilities or personnel. Examples include using Emory letterhead; using an Emory address as a return mailing address; using Emory funds to reimburse individuals for political contributions; and using working hours or support staff resources to solicit or make contributions.

· No individual may implicitly or explicitly require any Emory employee or student to make a political contribution.

· No individual may speak or act in his or her official University capacity in connection with a political campaign.

When corresponding with political groups, individuals may identify themselves as members of the Emory community, so long as they make clear they are acting in an individual rather than official capacity.

"Particularly if checks are grouped together and employer information is requested," Alexander said, "the transmittal letter should contain language similar to: 'Please accept the enclosed contributions. Although we are members of the Emory community, we are not acting on behalf of the institution-we are acting in our individual capacities, and our association with Emory is given only for identification purposes.'"

Alexander said the advisory is merely a preemptive step to answer questions people may have.

"With the Nov. 7 date getting closer and closer, I realize we can probably answer a lot of questions if we just tell people what the rules are up front," he said. "If there are specific questions, we are happy to answer them.

For additional information, contact Kimberly Piar in the General Counsel's office at 404-727-6011.

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