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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Endorsement Issues?

Ben Smith points out an interesting endorsement received by Eliott Spitzer, as reported in the Jewish Press:
Hoping for significant increases in government funding of yeshivas and day schools, representatives of more than 50 yeshivas from New York's five boroughs, under the banner of the United Federation of Torah Institutions, met in Brooklyn on Monday to endorse Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for Governor.
As many commenters to Ben's point out, nonprofit organizations that have 501c3 status are not allowed to endorse candidates, but there's no indication of whether the organization (United Federation of Torah Institutions) has that status. (Update: a commenter says they do not). What seems clear though, is that the Yeshivas that are under the umbrella of the organization certainly do. And though representatives of charitable organizations are allowed to endorse candidates as individuals, that would seem to be at odds with how this was done, according to the Jewish Press article, which quotes the organizer of the event boasting that the organization, which includes representatives from many Brooklyn Yeshivas, represents (there's that pesky word) 100,000 students in their endorsement of Spitzer:
Collectively, they represent 100,000 students, or 90% of the yeshiva children in the city, according to organizer Shiya Ostreicher.
That's also unusual as, as Ben points out, the Spitzer campaign hasn't publicized this endorsement at all. If these Rabbis really do represent thousands of people, why would the Spitzer campaign not seek publicity on what would seem to be a plum endorsement?

Ben also points this out in a later post:
Also, the Yeshiva group I blogged about this morning was founded just this April -- and incorporated by a lawyer who happens to be engaged to Spitzer's top fundraiser.
All of this reminds me of my post about questions raised over endorsements by Jewish organizations back during the Bloomberg campaign - though that event seemed to have kept the endorsements on an individual level, and not an organizational one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. They are just so...wow. They might be doing things according to the book, but this is still collosally smelly. Stupid move.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. United Federation of Torah Institutions is a NY not for profit.(a)
2. It is not a federal charity.(b)
3. I don’t see where NY law prohibits political endorsements. If someone knows where, they should state.
4. Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, whose executive member is listed in the Jewish Press as part of UFTI is listed as a federal charity (a 501(c)(3)).(b) It is also a NY not for profit (c)
5. 501(c)(3) charities can not take part in political campaigns. (d)
6. Therefore the capacity in which this person was affiliated with UFTI is quite relevant.
7. The NY State not-for-profit laws are enforced by NY State’s Attorney General. Eliot Spitzer, who received the endorsement, is NY State Attorney General. If there was a violation of the *state* law – and I’ve not seen any evidence that there has been – then we should have a particular problem with what happened here.

(a) NY lists it here: http://appsext5.dos.state.ny.us/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_nameid=3347363&p_corpid=3353327&p_entity_name=%55%6E%69%74%65%64%20%46%65%64%65%72%61%74%69%6F%6E%20%6F%66%20%54%6F%72%61%68%20%49%6E%73%74%69%74%75%74%69%6F%6E%73%20&p_name_type=%41&p_search_type=%42%45%47%49%4E%53&p_srch_results_page=0
(b) http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96136,00.html
(c) NY lists it here http://appsext5.dos.state.ny.us/corp_public/CORPSEARCH.ENTITY_INFORMATION?p_nameid=89189&p_corpid=71795&p_entity_name=%54%6F%72%61%68%20%56%6F%64%61%61%74%68&p_name_type=%41&p_search_type=%43%4F%4E%54%41%49%4E%53&p_srch_results_page=0
(d) http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=154622,00.html

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hagtbg, do you have google?
From here:

1. A §501(c)(3) organization is absolutely prohibited from engaging in any political campaigning activities whatsoever, or else it will forfeit its tax exempt status.

a. Campaign activity includes participation or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. A candidate is any contestant for elective office.

b. Political campaign activities relate to individual candidates, whereas lobbying activities relate to social issues and laws.

c. Participation in a campaign includes publishing or distributing statements made either by a candidate or by someone else directed at a candidate.

C. Prohibited Political Activities.

1. The endorsement of candidates.

2. Making donations to a candidate's campaign.

3. Engaging in fund raising on behalf of a candidate.

4. Distributing statements supporting or opposing a political candidate.

5. Becoming involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate.

I think its pretty clear. No wishy-washiness whatsoever.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. As I noted above, it is clear Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, a 501(c)(3) entity is prohibited from making political endorsements.

2. If the executive member of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath is part of United Federation of Torah Institutions at the behest of the yeshiva, the yeshiva is violating the law. If its in his personal capacity, its legal.

3. The lines appear to have not been well kept here or his position would not have been mentioned. But one can not state with certainty Yeshiva Torah Vodaath violated the law because one can not know from these articles in what capacity the man was there. Perhaps that was done purposefully. Anyway, they are right against the line and maybe over it.

4. United Federation of Torah Institutions is not a 501(c)(3) entity, i.e. a donation to it, is not exempt from federal taxes, and discussion of 501(c)(3) is irrelevant to it.

5. Again, I do not know of any state law prohibiting political activity by a not-for-profit but that does not mean such a law does not exist. If you can find it, let me know where.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Either way, they're not getting any support from Spitzer, who is aligned with Shelly "whatever the unions want" Silver.

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Seems our friends from Lawrence may not be so innocent..


The Polish immigrant accused of igniting the inferno that devoured historic warehouses on the Brooklyn waterfront may have a solid alibi.
Leszek Kuczera was feeding horses and cleaning out a campground 85 miles away in upstate New York when the Greenpoint Terminal Market went up in flames May2, the contractor who hired him told the Daily News yesterday.

"It would have been impossible for him to have started that fire because he was here, working for me," said Zbigniew Sarna of Pond Eddy, N.Y. "I hired him a couple days after Easter and he lived in my home until I brought him back to Greenpoint on May 11. I wanted him to stay because he was a good worker."

Sarna's claim casts doubt on the case against Kuczera, who confessed on videotape to accidentally starting the city's biggest blaze since 9/11, according to police. Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne declined to comment about the development but said detectives had been dispatched to Pond Eddy to check out Sarna's story.

Kuczera, 59, was indicted Monday on charges of reckless endangerment, burglary and arson. He is being held on Rikers Island and faces seven years in prison.

Tom Cleary of the Legal Aid Society said it too will check out Kuczera's alibi. "If it's strong enough, we'll try to get him released," he said.

Meanwhile, the Polish Consulate wants to know whether the interpreter the NYPD provided for Kuczera - who speaks hardly any English despite having lived in New York for 15 years - understood what the suspect was saying.

Kuczera told cops he and another man were trying to burn insulation off stolen copper wire when they accidentally started the fire, police said. But Kuczera's wife, who says the horrors her husband witnessed working at Ground Zero after 9/11 turned him into a homeless drunkard, said, "We never believed he started this fire."

"How can a person be accused of such a thing without knowing the whole story?" Hanna Kuczera, who lives in Lublin, Poland, asked the Dziennik Wschodni newspaper.

Sarna, who is also a Polish immigrant, said he was looking for workers to help him fix up an old campground and "turn it into a Polish resort" when he meet Kuczera.

"Just before Easter I put an ad into the Polish paper and two workers contacted me," Sarna said. "When I drove to Greenpoint to collect them, one of them brought Leszek along."

Sarna said Kuczera, who is an electrician by trade and worked for an asbestos removal company before he became a lush, had the skills he needed.

"I said, 'All right, I'll pay you and feed you, but no alcohol,'" he said. "He was no problem, except that he smoked a lot. He seemed happy and worked hard."

Sarna said Kuczera even attended a First Communion service for the contractor's son on May6. "When it came time for him to go, I gave him $300 and drove him back to Brooklyn," Sarna said. "I was as surprised as anybody when I learned he was arrested for starting that fire."

11:37 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

This may be a "get on the train before it leaves the station" situation. Spitzer is almost certain to be the next governor and it won't hurt to be on his good side. (He also has been an outstanding Attorney General.) Any large scale increase in support to religious schools would require an amendment to the State Constitution to repeal the Blaine amendment; I just don't see that happening in part because folks will (correctly) see such aid as increasing taxes.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeshivas and other communal institutions -- including tax-exempt ones -- giving what amount to endorsements of politicial figures is unseemly, but is understandable, particularly in the case of Spitzer, who is pretty-much a shoo-in as governor, since everyone wants to get in good with the probable winner in hopes of getting something in return down the road (Pataki did his best to enure that no state Republican could rival him -- thus leaving his party without a viable heir).

It's too bad that Spitzer is so far ahead that he can probably go on vacation till November and still win -- otherwise, voters could hold his feet to the fire and demand to know what the heck was he thinking when he annointed Sen. David Patterson as his running mate?

Sen. Patterson has, year after year, introduced a bill that would allow a person getting arrested to use force against the police to resist arrest without getting charged for it, as well as a bill mandating that officers who are put into a deadly force situation could only shoot a criminal to wound him in the arm or a leg (something that cops routinely do only on TV -- in real life, it's virtually impossible to shoot with such precision accuracy during the confused hurly-burly of a life-or-death gunfight, while the suspect is, of course, under no such restrictions and is clearly shooting to KILL them). Sen. Patterson's bill would also open officers who use more than such minimal force to prosecution -- even if seriously wounding or killing a suspect was the only way to save the life of the officer (who must make a split-second decision, while his/her critics will have the luxury of ample time for second-guessing) or that of an innocent citizen being attacked.

With crime on the increase, particularly in Nassau (read the papers), Sen. Patterson is a totally inappropriate choice for lieutenant governor that smacks of rank POLITICAL PANDERING. But Spitzer will not be held to account for choosing such a man who obviously has no understanding of public safety issues and putting him just one heartbeat away from the governor's chair.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous viagra online said...

Unfortunately everything is a process of selection, like the student scholarships... just the best ones gets one, the other ones it's like sorry and that's it even if they don't feel real sorry haha

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