Lobbying under fire – Critics question spending limits

Large charities say the $1 million limit on lobbying expenses for nonprofits needs to be adjusted for inflation, The Washington Post reports.

The $1 million limit established in 1976 has eroded in value to about $306,000 in 1976 dollars, the Post says.

Had the limit been indexed for inflation, it now would total $2.7 million.

The 25-year old law – permitting 501(h) nonprofits that spend $17 million or more a year to earmark up to $1 million for lobbying expenses – was intended to limit excessive lobbying by nonprofit organizations.

As the limit eroded, large organizations such as the American Heart Association opted to revoke their 501(h) status and risk the imprecise lobbying limits on general nonprofits.

With $400 million in annual revenue, the Heart Association spends about $2 million each year on lobbying for medical research, tobacco regulation, and access to emergency care.

Recommendations to index the limit may not be well-received in Congress, where further restrictions on charity lobbying have enjoyed widespread support, the Post says.

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