REQUESTED BY: Margrethe Ahlschwede, Candidate, Ahlschwede for City Council Committee
QUESTION: Upon the dissolution of a candidate committee may residual campaign funds be distributed to the following: Nebraska Wesleyan University Great Teaching Program; the Lincoln Foundation, for the University Place Arts Center; the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Gifts Trust Fund?
Residual campaign funds of a candidate committee being dissolved may so disbursed to any or all of the three above noted entities.
We are advised that the Ahlschwede for City Council Committee is contemplating disbursement of residual campaign funds in the sum of $1,334.14 to the Nebraska Wesleyan University Great Teaching Program, the Lincoln Foundation for the University Place Arts Center, and the City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Gifts and Trust Fund. We are informed that the Nebraska Wesleyan University Great Teaching Program and the Lincoln Foundation for the University Place Arts Center are 501(c)(3) organizations as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. That is, they are tax exempt organizations. Discussion with a representative of the City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department leads us to believe that the City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Gifts Trust Fund falls within the definition of 26 USCS Section 501(c)(3) and is thus tax exempt as well. The question then becomes whether any or all of these entities are charitable as well as tax exempt.
For the purpose of Section 49-1466 the Commission interprets the term "charitable institution" to mean a corporation, trust, organization, community chest, fund or foundation organized and operated exclusively for the religious, scientific, literary, educational, physical and social benefit of the public and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. Charitable institution shall not include a corporation, trust, organization, community chest, fund or foundation which, as a substantial part of its activities attempts to influence legislation, or participate in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.
Having defined the term "charitable institution" we find that all three of the entities to which the Ahlschwede for City Council Committee proposes to disburse funds are charitable institutions within the meaning of Section 49-1466 and distribution of residual campaign funds to any or all three of these organization is permissible.