Today Human Rights Campaign and the Courage Campaign called on the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, to explain why its tax-exempt charitable organization, the Ruth Institute – a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund – is violating federal laws by intervening on behalf of a candidate for elected office.
This past Monday, Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse spoke on behalf of her organization at a campaign stop of the “Vota Tus Valores” bus tour, a NOM-backed independent expenditure in support of California Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in San Diego. At the campaign event Morse talked about the role of the Ruth Institute, held up the organization’s signage and closed her remarks by saying, “We’re very glad to be part of this electoral effort.” (Watch video of Morse speaking at event.)
Morse’s campaign appearance followed a NOM-issued press release titled “National Organization for Marriage and Ruth Institute Join Bus Tour Supporting Carly Fiorina in California.” The release states that “Brian Brown, president of NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse, president of The Ruth Institute, a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund, will both be supporting the bus tour as it makes its way around California.” In addition to supporting Fiorina, the NOM charitable group has also illegally participated in a campaign to elect California judges.
Pursuant to the federal tax code, a charitable organization – which is permitted to receive tax deductible contributions – may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. Violation of this prohibition can result in stiff penalties against the organization and its officials as well as potential revocation of its tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. Federal and state election laws also require organizations to disclose their campaign expenditures.