Donor list & political activities requirements

I. THE LAW

A. Section 396(k)(12) of the Communications Act provides that:

"(12) Funds may not be distributed under this subsection to any public broadcasting entity that directly or indirectly-

"(A) rents contributor or donor names (or other personally identifiable information) to or from, or exchanges such names or information with, any Federal, State, or local candidate, political party, or political committee; or

"(B) discloses contributor or donor names, or other personally identifiable information, to any nonaffiliated third party unless-

"(i) such entity clearly and conspicuously discloses to the contributor or donor that such information may be disclosed to such third party;

"(ii) the contributor or donor is given the opportunity before the time that such information is initially disclosed, to direct that such information not be disclosed to such third party; and

"(iii) the contributor or donor is given an explanation of how the contributor or donor may exercise that nondisclosure option."

B. Section 397(11) of the Act states: "The term "public broadcasting entity" means the Corporation, and licensee or permittee of a public broadcast station, or any nonprofit institution engaged primarily in the production, acquisition, distribution, or dissemination of educational and cultural television or radio programs."

II. INTERPRETATIONS

A. Definitions

1. CPB defines "candidate" to mean an individual who seeks election to Federal, State or local office, or nomination for such election.

2. CPB defines "political party" to mean an association, committee, or organization which nominates a candidate for election to any Federal, State, or local office whose name appears on an election ballot as the candidate of such association, committee, or organization.

3. CPB defines "political committee" as a committee that is authorized by a candidate or whose primary purpose is the election of such candidate to Federal, State or local office.

4. For purposes of this policy, CPB considers a third party person, company, partnership or other entity to be a "nonaffiliated" third party, unless such third party is acting on behalf of and at the request of the public broadcasting entity for the purposes of the public broadcasting entity's fundraising development.

B. Effect

1. Political Lists.

This provision of the law prohibits CPB from distributing its federally appropriated funds to public broadcasting entities (as defined in Section 397(11) of the Act) that rent contributor or donor names (or other personally identifiable information) to or from, or exchange such names or information with, any Federal, State, or local candidate, political party, or political committee. Therefore, it is CPB policy that grantees shall not engage in the exchange, rental, or sale of donor or member names to, from or with any candidate, political party, or political committee, except as required by law or judicial process. This prohibition applies whether or not the contributor or donor has given permission for the exchange of names or other information.

2. Donor or Contributor Privacy.

Public broadcasting entities receiving CPB funds must not disclose contributor or donor names, or other personally identifiable information, to any nonaffiliated third party unless three specific requirements are met: (1) the CPB grantee clearly and conspicuously discloses to the contributor or donor that personally identifiable information may be disclosed to nonaffiliated third parties; (2) before the time that any information is initially disclosed, the contributor or donor is given the opportunity to direct that such information not be disclosed to nonaffiliated third parties; and (3) the contributor or donor is given an explanation of how the contributor or donor may exercise that nondisclosure option.

a. CPB grantees must maintain active control over their membership and donor lists, and take all appropriate measures to prevent unauthorized use of these lists. This requirement applies to the station and third parties working for the station, including but not limited to list brokers, mail-list management organizations, Friends organizations, fundraising organizations, or advertising or public relations agencies, to abide by a grantee's compliance requirements, except as otherwise required by law or judicial process.

b. CPB grantees must not disclose contributor or donor names or other personally identifiable information to any nonaffiliated third party unless, before the time that such information is initially disclosed, the grantee clearly and conspicuously discloses to all of its contributors and donors that such personal information may be disclosed to nonaffiliated third parties. The grantee shall give the contributor or donor the opportunity to direct that such information not be disclosed to nonaffiliated third parties, and give the contributor or donor an explanation of how to exercise that nondisclosure option, except when such disclosure is required by law or judicial process.

c. CPB grantees must periodically remind contributors or donors of any potential for sale, rental, lease, loan, trade, gift, donation, transfer, or exchange of their names and personally identifiable information; and offer a means by which the names and other personally identifiable information may be suppressed upon request; and suppress the names as requested, except as otherwise required by law or judicial process.

3. Record Retention.

CPB requires that grantees maintain complete, accurate, and secure records by which it may be assured that grantees are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of the Federal government relating to this policy, and the eligibility requirements for public broadcasting entities as established by the Corporation. These records may be maintained in any format; they must be maintained for a period not less than three years. A grantee may contract with an affiliated third party to maintain the grantee's records, provided that the records are maintained in accordance with CPB's policies. If a grantee utilizes an affiliated third party to maintain records, the grantee retains and bears the responsibility of ensuring the records are maintained in compliance with CPB policies.

C. Limitation.

Non-political Organizations.

A public broadcasting entity may buy, sell, exchange, lease, or rent donor or contributor lists to, from, or with other organizations or individuals provided that such organizations or individuals are not candidates for Federal, State or local office, political parties, or political committees; and further provided that the public broadcasting entity complies with all of the provisions of CPB's donor list policy provisions relating Section 396(k)(12) of the Act.

III. MINIMUM COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS

A. All public telecommunications entities, including all station grant recipients, must do the following:

1. Annually certify to CPB their continued compliance with the laws and regulations of the Internal Revenue Service, and with all other applicable Federal law or regulations governing political activity and lobbying in effect at the time of certification;

2. Not sell, rent, lease, loan, trade, give, donate, transfer or exchange their membership or donor names to, with or from any candidate for Federal, State or local office, political committees, or political parties for any purpose whatsoever, except as otherwise required by law or judicial process;

3. Maintain active control of their contributor and donor lists, and take all appropriate measures to ensure against unauthorized use of such lists including requiring any third party, including but not limited to list brokers, mail-list management organizations, Friends organizations, fundraising organizations, or advertising or public relations agencies, to abide by a grantees' compliance requirements, except as otherwise required by law or judicial process;

4. Refrain from disclosing contributor or donor names or other personally identifiable information to any nonaffiliated third party unless, before the time that such information is initially disclosed, they clearly and conspicuously disclose to contributors and donors that such personal information may be disclosed to a nonaffiliated third party. If such disclosure is not required by law or judicial process, the grantee shall give the contributor or donor the opportunity to direct that such information not be disclosed to a nonaffiliated third party, and give the contributor or donor an explanation of how to exercise that nondisclosure option; and

5. Periodically remind contributors or donors of any potential for sale, rental, lease, loan, trade, gift, donation, transfer, or exchange of their names and personally identifiable information, and offer a means by which the names and other personally identifiable information may be suppressed upon request; and suppress the names as requested, except as required by law or judicial process.

B. All public telecommunications entities, including all CPB grantees, must maintain complete, accurate, and secure records of all uses of membership and donor lists for fundraising purposes, and must furnish such records to CPB on request.

C. Result of Noncompliance. At its discretion, CPB may disqualify grantees from eligibility to receive, in whole or in part, Station Grants or other CPB grants or awards.

IV. CPB PROCEDURES FOR COMPLIANCE AND CERTIFICATION

A. Documentation

1. Each recipient of a CPB station grant, after reviewing the above information, shall develop documentation indicating the manner of compliance with this requirement.

2. The documentation shall be kept at a reasonable location by each station and made available to CPB, upon request, to determine the fact and extent of compliance. The documentation shall also be made available to auditors who may be making periodic audits of a station.

B. Certification

1. CPB will require that each recipient of a CPB station grant annually certify its continued compliance with the mailing list and political activities requirements. The annual certification will be part of the Integrated Station Information System ("ISIS") and must be filled out by each CPB station grantee.

2. All such Certification of Eligibility forms must be completed in their entirety and executed by two different individuals: (1) an authorized official of the licensee responsible for executing grants and/or contracts for the licensee who has knowledge and authority to certify that the licensee and its station meet or exceed each of the eligibility criteria listed in the Certification of Eligibility (e.g., chairman, treasurer or secretary of the board of directors, university vice president for finance, president of the school board); and (2) the chief executive officer in charge of the operation of the station (e.g., president, general manager, or station manager).

V. OTHER REQUIREMENTS

A. Section 501(c)(3) --The Internal Revenue Code; Tax Exempt Organizations' Lobbying and Political Activities Accountability Act of 1987: 501(c)(3) organizations must:

"...not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."

B. The Internal Revenue Service may revoke the 501(c)(3) status of any organization that fails to comply with its rules, and may levy fines in the nature of excise taxes, on the organization and/or its leaders who knowingly engaged in activities in violation of its rules.

C. The Internal Revenue Service has regulations stating that no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (i.e. lobbying).

Contact CPB

If you have questions about these guidelines, please send an e-mail to West Smithers, or call (202) 879-9805.

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