Wednesday, July 08, 2015

IRS Asked to Probe MEDA & SF Moratorium Ballot Prop

Since I've never witnessed a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization opening its offices and putting its executives to work on behalf of a San Francisco ballot measure, I've requested a probe from the IRS regarding the Mission Economic Development Agency's effort to get a development moratorium on the November ballot.

Maybe it's allowable under Treasury Department laws that nonprofits can engage directly in electoral political activities such as what MEDA has done in the past few weeks, or not, but questions must be asked of and answered by the IRS. Here's the letter, images and links snail-mailed today to the feds at the IRS office in Dallas, Texas.

Dear IRS Exempt Organizations Complaint Desk,

I am requesting an investigation of the Mission Economic Development Agency, EIN 51-0187791, of San Francisco, California, to determine if this 501(c)3 nonprofit has followed all pertinent laws regarding exempt organizations and political activities.


In late June, this image was circulating on the web recruiting paid signature-gatherers to earn up to $50 an hour to help MEDA get a luxury housing moratorium measure on the San Francisco ballot in November. Petitions to meet the Department of Elections ballot requirements were available at MEDA's office located at 2301 Mission Street, 3rd Floor. Signature-gatherers were told to show up at that office for a fifteen-minute training.



On the Facebook page of Gabriel Medina, the public policy director at MEDA, he urged people to stop by the nonprofit's office to either sign the ballot measure petitions or drop off petitions.

The San Francisco Business Times reported on Medina's efforts to rally support via the web for getting MEDA's initiative on the ballot:

"But 'the Mission Luxury Housing Moratorium is necessary and winnable for the November 2015 election. The narrative is changing,' Gabriel Medina, policy director of the Mission Economic Development Agency, told moratorium supporters in an email obtained by the Business Times."


On July 6, Medina submitted the petitions to the Department of Elections at City Hall and garnered much media attention, including a story on NBC Bay Area 11 News. Medina was clearly identified as an executive of the exempt organization MEDA, not an ordinary citizen.

I believe there is clear evidence of MEDA's direct engagement with the electoral process and political engagement that

An immediate probe of MEDA and its political actions is needed. If you have any questions or concerns regarding my request, please contact me via email or snail mail.

Regards,
Michael Petrelis

3 comments:

Mike Zonta said...

Thanks for looking into this...

Michael Petrelis said...

Nonprofits needs lots of watchdogging.

Stephen R. Stapleton, Sacramento, CA said...

A good guide that will answer most of your questions can be found at:

http://www.nonprofitvote.org/documents/2010/11/nonprofits-voting-and-elections.pdf

Ballot measures are considered lobbying and, thus, "A nonprofit may advocate for or against a ballot measure up to its normal lobbying limits."