EP. 04 — Praising and Criticizing Incumbents


Our attorneys for this episode:

Tim MooneyLeslie Barnes Quyen Tu


  • 501(c)(3)s cannot support or oppose candidates for public office – see ROTG episode 1. But they can criticize or support the policy actions of incumbents, so long as it doesn’t appear as a proxy for a stance on the re-election of that official.
  • Example 1 – Ali Noorani is President & Chief Executive Officer of the National Immigration Forum, a 501(c)(3) advocacy organization to promote the value of immigrants and immigration. Ali is responding to President Trump’s Executive Order banning certain types of visas. 
    • Green light – this does not pose a risk 
    • Criticism is focused on the actions, not theindividual 
    • Track record of criticism prior to the lections 
    • Timing is well before the election 
    • Trigger is a non-election event (the EO) 
  • Example 2 – Marisa Ordoniais a Senior Associate Attorney at Earthjustice’s regional office in Seattle. In this clip, Marissa speaks about a case against the Trump administration. 
    • Green light – this does not pose a risk 
    • Track record: 115 cases against the administration 
    • No references to voters or election 
    • Timing is well before the election 
    • Nonelectoral trigger