A nonprofit in Portage, Indiana is defending a $500 contribution to the local Mayor's re-election campaign. An article on PortageCommunity.com reported that Bert Cook, executive director of the Portage Economic Development Corp (PEDCO)., said they did not consider the participation in a Sept. 19 golf outing as a campaign contribution to incumbent Democratic Mayor Olga Velazquez, but as a chance to network with the city's business and community leaders.
Cook further explained to PortageCommunity that even if the money was supposed to be a political contribution, his accountants told him that it is legal for the organization to spend up to 20 percent of its yearly total expenditures on lobbying. PEDCO receives almost half of its annual funding from tax dollars, but the contribution came from organization's marketing budget, which contains only private contributions, according to Cook. Velazquez has a seat on PEDCO's board of directors, though Cook says she is not on the executive committee, which has a say in the decisions the organization makes. Cook says he will re-evaluate the decision to attend the fundraiser, and probably will avoid similar events in the future.
Lobbying has long been a source of discomfort for nonprofits. Many organizations aren't confident they are allowed to lobby, and lobbying rules are complex and often require disclosure. You can learn more about nonprofit lobbying by visiting our website. You should also be sure to read the rest of the PortageCommunity aritcle.