Sometimes, public officials don’t behave the way we hope they will. Whether it’s a conflict of interest, outright corruption, or even a criminal offense we have seen examples of government officials that break the trust of the people they serve. While some may find their way out of office at the next election or through impeachment, those options may not be available. On this episode, we tackle advocating for resignation when a problematic public official needs to step down now.
Our Attorneys for This Episode:
Why would one advocate for resignation over something else?
- Lifetime tenures with no end of terms
- Impeachment processes aren’t politically feasible
- Elections for the term are years away and the conduct is too egregious to wait out
- For 501(c)(3)s: Prohibitions on supporting or opposing candidates for public office
Can my nonprofit call for the resignation of appointed or elected officials?
The IRS has given no guidance on this, but we can make some informed calls based on parallel guidance.
Answer: Yes, almost without limit unless the call for resignation touches on limited or restricted activity.
Isn’t this the same as supporting or opposing candidates?
Not usually – no elections are involved in a call to resign. Calls for resignation could be an election issue, however (tread carefully if a (c)(3)).
Special caution should be exercised if advocating for resignation of an elected official (e.g. don’t want to suggest who should (or should not) be elected to fill the position if resignation happens).
Note: this is very different than supporting a recall vote, which is an election and would therefore be prohibited activity for a 501(c)(3).
Could this be lobbying?
Only if there is a process where there is a vote of a legislative body and you advocate for a vote.
i.e. An oversight committee considers the conduct of a member and votes on a resolution call for expulsion, impeachment or resignation.
- Calls in years past for President Trump to resign (sorry you’ll have to be more specific) before and during impeachment(s) that did not support/oppose any votes on impeachment in the House or the Senate trial
- Calls for Justice Thomas to resign in light of discovery of unreported financial conflicts of interest. Sweetheart real estate deals, private school tuition, and lavish vacations. Oh my!
- Calls for Rep. Santos to resign after indictment on multiple federal criminal charges
- Raising the Bar: Nonprofits and the Fight for Judicial Integrity (Blog)
- Ballot Measures and Recalls: Basic Rules for 501(c)(3) Public Charities, 501(c)(4)s, and Unions (Guide)
- Rules of the Game: A Guide to Election-Related Activities for 501(c)(3) Organizations (Guide)
- AFJ’s call for Justice Thomas to resign (Resource hub)
- Bolder Advocacy’s TA hotline: 866-NP-LOBBY
- Email us at email@example.com
- Our website is bolderadvocacy.org