Monday, November 3, 2008

C of C defends promoting Home Rule Ballot Item

A letter to NewsLanc raises the question of whether the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce has violated its 501(c)6 tax exempt status by lobbying for and participating in advertisements promoting a "Yes" vote for the Home Rule Charter.

According to the web site of the Internal Revenue Service, "Seeking legislation germane to the common business interest is a permissible means of attaining a business league's exempt purposes."

NewsLanc queried Chamber President Tom Baldrige on whether advocacy of the Home Rule Charter was indeed "germane to the common business interest" of its membership.

Baldrige responded "Throughout the process we have continuously reached out to our membership to solicit their input including an early June breakfast meeting open to our entire membership wherein both positions of the Government Study Commission were presented."

Baldrige distinguished a vote on a Ballot Question from advocating a candidate, something he said the Chamber would not do.

Baldrige added "The Chamber has consulted with counsel as well as the state and county election authorities."

But when asked whether the Chamber had consulted with tax counsel or federal authorities to determine whether its advocacy was a violation of its 501(c)6 tax status, he did not say they had.

They should have.