Helping to elect business-friendly candidates is a common role of Chambers of Commerce across the country and is one of our main functions as a business advocacy group. Nearly 80% of our 1100 members have told us they expect us to participate in this activity. It is not a role we take lightly. Our volunteer Political Action Committee and Board of Directors allow an opportunity for each candidate to be interviewed and then make endorsement decisions on pro-business candidates when appropriate. Chamber staff then reflects those decisions in the community.
These activities are permissible under the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) tax designation as stated by the IRS:
IRC 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) organizations may engage in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office provided that such intervention does not constitute the organization’s primary activity.
IRC 501(c) organizations may generally make expenditures for political campaign activities if such activities (and other activities not furthering its exempt purposes) do not constitute the organization’s primary activity.
Organizations described in IRC 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) may engage in an unlimited amount of lobbying, provided that the lobbying is related to the organization’s exempt purpose.”
The Chamber does not allocate regular membership dues to it’s Political Action Fund. Monies for this fund come from designated donations from Chamber and community members who give specifically for this purpose. Political Action Committee donations are kept completely separate from any membership, sponsorship, or event revenue; or any other source of revenue not designated for this purpose.