• Rebecca Katers

    If a person is doing more than incidental lobbying of state or federal lawmakers about specific legislation which could impact a significant source of their personal income, they should be required to formally register as a “lobbyist.”

    It shouldn’t matter that they claim to be lobbying only as an unpaid volunteer for one particular non-profit organization, if they also receive significant income from another related source.

    It also shouldn’t matter whether that related income source is in or out of Wisconsin.

    Their significant unregistered and unreported special interest lobbying could have the same potential for negative impacts on the public interest that formally registered and reported lobbying can have, so why should they be exempt?

    This article exposes serious loopholes in Wisconsin’s lobbying regulations that need to be closed immediately.

    On another tack, I thought that legislative and congressional lobbying by federally registered non-profit organizations was strictly limited by the IRS. The IRS used to prohibit non-profits from spending more than 20% of their “resources” on lobbying, and it didn’t matter whether the lobbying was done by paid or unpaid personnel representing the organization. The IRS could require non-profits to document their compliance, so legitimate Wisconsin non-profits I’ve known have always kept lobbying to a minimum.

    Does this IRS rule still apply to Wisconsin non-profits, or only some types of non-profits?

    Shouldn’t significant hours of unpaid lobbying effort by an influential person like Mr. Sullivan be considered an “in-kind contribution” with substantial dollar value that should be included and documented to the IRS and State of Wisconsin as part of the Wisconsin Mining Association’s overall financial income and expenditures?

    And if such in-kind donations of time put the Association over the IRS limit for non-profits, shouldn’t the Association’s non-profit status be revoked? (It sounds like the Association spends a lot more than 20% of their resources on lobbying, even without inclusion of volunteer time.)

    If current federal and state laws don’t include these requirements and limits, they SHOULD, because the public has a right to know and NEEDS to know the full extent and all types of lobbying that influence the public’s government.

    It’s frightening to hear about the proliferation of phony, secretive, NON-non-profits who receive flagrantly inappropriate tax-exempt benefits and protections, and use their “non-profit” status to seriously damage our democracy by skirting normal tax, lobby, campaign and disclosure regulations.

    This corruption must stop.