albuquerque, Politics

Guest Post: Mad Dog Casey Rides Again – Politics and Bogus 501c3s

A guest post on the current 501c3 bogusosity in New Mexico politics, by my friend, who wishes to remain anonymous and goes by the pen name “Mad Dog Casey.”

True Believers,
It’s time to dust off the cape and spandex and break out the nonprofit ninjitsu–after many long years of silence, MadDogCasey rides again to combat the misinformation spewed forth by the leftist, er, progressive blabosphere

First, to you whiny activists who believe that you can violate IRC 501(c) by actively campaigning for or against specific political candidates and then calling it “free speech”–piss off!  You know you’re wrong, so quit trying to hide behind the First Amendment. It’s absolutely clear that you’d like your cake and ice cream too, but that’s not how it works in the bright shiny world of the federal tax code.

Now for those of you saying, “Screw you Mad Dog! You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” Let me take you back to school–Ninja style.

When New Mexico nonprofit corporations apply for and receive tax-exempt status under 501(c) from the IRS, it provides some great benefits, but there are several strings attached–particularly when it comes to political communications like direct mail campaigns and canvas efforts to unseat an incumbent lawmaker. Hmmmmmm. I’ll bet that sounds familliar to some of you rubes. Here’s the MadDogCasey breakdown on what most nonprofits can and can’t do according to the IRS.

501 (c)(4) organizations–often called issue advocacy groups and referred to by those in the know as shadow pacs–are allowed to send out campaign literature, to speak on issues, and engage in political campaign and lobbying work–they have to be careful in terms of what they can do in support of or against specific candidates, but there aren’t a lot of restrictions. As far as nonprofits go, 501(c)(4)s have the greatest amount of freedom when it comes to political speech. Here’s the major drawback: Although 501(c)(4)s can fund raise, donations to those groups are not tax-deductible. As a nonprofit ninja master, I can tell you that if donations aren’t tax-deductible, supporters don’t like to open their checkbooks.

Now most of us are familiar with the important work that 501(c)(3)s do: youth services, affordable housing, animal shelters and humane societies, care and support of the disabled, etc.  Here’s what they are not allowed to do: political communications and campaign work for or against specific candidates. Now they can address issues that affect their constituents, but typically, no more than 10 percent of their budgets can be spent on lobbying and issue advocacy. Furthermore, when it seems that all a 501(c)(3) organization is doing is political work, then something is wrong. In the case of a few NM nonprofits that campaigned against Shannon Robinson in the primary election last year, it resulted in spankings from the NM Attorney General Gary King, and backlash legislation this year from the Legislature.

Most other nonprofit organizations have to follow similar rules laid out for the 501(c)(3) organizations. BTW the reason for the communication restrictions lie in the fact that public charities and private foundations are public entities that use public money for their work–much like government agencies, which aren’t allowed to use their funds to campaign for or against elected officials either. 

The one possible psuedo-exception to the above are churches. During last year’s election cycle, churches on the far right preached politics from the pulpit and claimed that they not only had a free speech right to do so, but that their speech was protected under religious ground. Now this isn’t a real exception–yet. The right-wing activist churches knew they were breaking the law, but their purpose is to challenge the tax code in court.

Frankly I agree with the attorney general’s actions regarding the organizations that banded together to take out Shannon Robinson. He reclassified them into their appropriate catagories (501(c)(4) or 527)–if a nonprofit public charity or private foundation engages in substantive political campaign work it needs to reclassify as a 527 (PAC) or a 501(c)(4)–period. 501(c)(3) organizations receive huge benefits–exemptions from property tax, gross receipts tax, and tax-deductible donations just to name a few. In exchange for these perks, the organizations agree to abide by the rules of conduct established in the federal tax code, which are explicit when they say something like this: “Yea verily thou shalt not engage in politicking, and if you do, thou shalt face dire consequences. So there!”

MadDogCasey is the nom-de-plume of an award-winning journalist, public relations practitioner and nonprofit ninja master.  

Here endith the lesson.



(We break into your regularly scheduled PR and business news to give you… crickets!)

Good morning ,at the crack of 121 in the am.  I was finishing up reading a couple of blogs before bed and suddenly stopped to realize that, for the first time in a very long time, the sounds of crickets are dancing through the air.

Between the crickets chirping, and the cool breeze cutting the 80-degree heat out of the house, I’ve just realized that spring has firmly ensconced itself in Albuquerque.  Now let’s see how long it lasts before the 100-degree days hit this year. (“Gee there’s no such thing as global warming…” My ass!)


A Good Cause

The creative team over at Mudhouse Advertising will donate $1 (up to $10K) to Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless’s Art Center for every unique view of this:

So come on guys, if all of you watch then we’ll have helped contribute by a whole $3! 🙂

Happy Yule, y’all.

albuquerque, media

The Bell Might Not Toll for Thee, Tribune

This report is in from the Santa Fe New Mexican – Doug Turner, CEO of DW Turner Strategic Communications and Tom Carroll, President of DW Turner – are making a bid to buy the Albuquerque Tribune.  If this is true, it would be a very interesting turn in the saga that has been the potential closing of the Albuquerque Tribune.  In full disclosure,  I have worked at DW Turner before, and have many friends currently working at the Tribune.  Doug and Tom are great people to work for, and they know how to run a dynamic company that is capable of changing in the ever fluctuating media landscape.

As I said in previous posts, anyone buying the Tribune would be faced with many possibilities and pitfalls – they would not have any income coming in from the Joint Operating Agreement, they would not have access to the Journal’s equipment or advertising and publishing staff, they would have to start from scratch.  That said, they would also be able to publish a morning paper, print on Sundays, switch design from a broadsheet design to a tabloid design and they could remain creative with their design and online content.  In fact, who knows what they could plan to do with the Tribune!  It could be something completely different than what any of us are thinking.
I’ve got to jet to bed – long days today and tomorrow – but I am looking forward to  the future of the Tribune and media in Albuquerque.  As I said earlier tonight on DCF, It’s going to be an exciting time!

albuquerque, media

Grumble, Grumble… Damn Dell (And More)

Damn, as soon as I get done with my last post, my computer goes haywire again and I have to reinstall my OS again, and reload all of my software (which was a bitch!). Which I hope explains my silence as SWOP goes on to argue that you can’t really limit free speech and still say it is free. Interesting, that’s what I was saying the entire time in that Venezuela-RCTV post they had up a couple weeks earlier.

What Else?

Not to mention, I still need to address what’s going on now with the Paseo extension and grade-gate. I’ve gotta say, I never thought I’d find anything that would convince me that Mayor Chavez should take control of APS. Congratulations Superintendent Everett, you’ve convinced me.

Hand it over to Mayor Chavez. His system of governance can’t be any worse than yours.

Speaking of SWOP…

Ah, I love it when a plan comes together.


It’s nice to see that the folks at SWOP have come around to my way of looking at free speech. I don’t want to say “I told you so guys” but, ya know, I told ya so. 🙂

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Searching for the Hidden Park (Sept. 30, 2006 Redux)


Recently my GF told me about this hidden park in our neighborhood. We’ve taken Pickles (my dog) out there a couple of times, and given Pickles recent escape attempts (chronicled below), I decided Saturday morning to take her on a walk.

My GF leaves for work about 6:45 in the morning on Saturdays, and this Saturday I couldn’t get back to sleep after she left, so I did a little blogging and a little blog reading until it warmed up.

Around 10:30 I decided it was warm enough and I was bored enough to go back to the “Hidden Park”. This time, however, I thought I’d chronicle our little adventure.

So I started rounding up everything I needed for a successful walk.

Loaded pipe?


iPod ready to go? Check. (and ironic if you can see the audiobook playing, “Blog” by Hugh Hewitt) 😉

Ready to go. I just keep thinking I’m missing something.

Something important…

Oh yeah, the dog!

Now, ready to go and all that, away we went. (more pics in Part 2)



Searching for the Hidden Park Pt. 2 (Sept. 30, 2006)

Pickles and I kept walking in the neighborhood, enjoying the morning and the beautiful sunny day we have so many of in New Mexico.

We live in a part of town with a lot of support for Patricia Madrid. Last week while at the State Fair my GF and I picked up a Halliburton Heather sign for our yard for the heck of it and the guy at the Democratic Party for New Mexico tent and he told us that we lived in a part of town that was pretty friendly for Madrid. My GF joked that she didn’t want a brick thrown through her window and, and the guy told us there were parts of town where that could probably happen.

Anyway, back to the walk. We came to a bend in the road, one way was a quick jaunt to the main roads, the opposite of which led us down a winding road into Pleasant Valley Sunday-land.
We turned left (at Albuquerque, heh heh) and before long, the road led us to an ominous looking entry lane…
What would wait for us on the other side? Only the Shadow knows…


Searching for the Hidden Park Pt. 3 (Sept. 30, 2006)

What was waiting for us? We walked down the little lane…

And there it was, in its glory, hidden from the outside world by a protective ring of houses. A little slice of shady paradise in Albuquerque. (without the SCA’ers swinging swords at each other).

Pickles started to drag me around to look for her favorite spots, which included the entire park.

She took time to say hi to a new addition to the park she’d never met before. A dog that was very happy to see her, I’m sure.

We looked down another of the side entrances to the park.

And how cool! Tibetan prayer flags!