Donor List and Political Activity Legislation: The Act restricts disclosure of donor lists for political and other uses as follows:
(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. §396(k)(12)
Definitions: CPB defines the operative terms of the Act as follows:
- Candidate – an individual seeking election to Federal, State, or local office, or nomination for such position.
- Political Party – an association, committee, or organization that nominates a candidate for election to any Federal, State, or local office and whose name appears on an election ballot as the candidate of such association, committee, or organization.
- Political Committee – a committee authorized by a candidate or whose primary purpose is the election of a candidate to any Federal, State, or local office.
- Nonaffiliated Third Party – any person, company, partnership, or other party that is not controlled by or acting on behalf of, or at the request of, the station for the purpose of fundraising, underwriting, or development for the station.
Restricting the Exchange of Donor Information: The Communications Act bars stations from renting contributor names, donor names, or other personally identifiable information (collectively Personal Information) to or from, or exchanging Personal Information with, any Federal, State, or local candidate, political party, or political committee.
The Act also bars stations, unless required by law, from disclosing a contributor or donor’s Personal Information to any Nonaffiliated Third Party, unless the station:
- clearly and conspicuously notifies contributors and donors that the station may release its Personal Information to Nonaffiliated Third Parties;
- advises contributors and donors before any disclosure that they have the right not to have their Personal Information disclosed; and
- explains to the contributor or donor how to exercise that non-disclosure option.
For contributors and donors who provide ongoing station support and have consented to have their Personal Information disclosed, the station should periodically advise them in writing that they have the right to withdraw such permission.
- Safeguarding Donor Information: Stations should maintain complete, accurate and secure records of all uses of membership and donor lists for fundraising. Stations should implement safeguards to maintain active control of contributor and donor lists, to avoid the unauthorized use of Personal Information by any employee or third party, including but not limited to list brokers, mail-list management organizations, friends organizations, and advertising or public relations agencies, unless otherwise required by law judicial process.
Lobbying Activity Restrictions: The Act states that stations may not use any funds provided by CPB for purposes of:
. . . conducting any reception or providing any other entertainment for any officer or employee of the Federal Government or any State or local government. §396 (k)(2)(A)
Stations should keep in mind that the Internal Revenue Service restricts the amount of political and legislative (lobbying) activities a non-profit organization may engage in, as shown below:
. . .exemption from taxation. . . shall be denied because a substantial part of the activities of such organization consists of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation . . . 26 U.S.C. §501(c)(3)