As a resident alien, where can I donate against the Tea Party?
October 2, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I think the far right House representatives causing the current shutdown deserve political consequences, which I would like to take the form of losing their seats. As a non-US citizen, I cannot give money directly to any politician or campaign or related group (right?). So what's the next best option?

Basic aims
- anti government people out of government (simplistically, groups like people who signed this letter, people with quotes like these)
- increased pressure on (and support for) reasonable Republicans (e.g: McCain, House reps who would vote for the budget, any who have been speaking out against the shutdown) to stand against the Tea Party reps

(I am not interested in volunteering for anything, this is about where to send cash. I already give to charities, this is not about whether I should spend my money on this cause. If you know what you are talking about, you can tell me why there is no course of action that fits my goals here.)
posted by jacalata to Law & Government (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you clarify that you are not a permanent resident alien (green card holder), and instead are in country on a visa of some kind?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2013

It is "foreign nationals" who are prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in connection with elections, not non-citizens. The FEC notes that "green card" holders (i.e., individuals lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.) are not considered foreign nationals and, as a result, may contribute.

That said, even if you can't contribute directly, you can contribute to political organizations not specifically concerned with an election. For example, if you were concerned about free speech, you could contribute to the ACLU. I realize that is not your issue, but unfortunately I can't think of any organizations which primarily are concerned with the aims you mention. However, I'm sure they're out there, and would love to have your money.
posted by ubiquity at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2013

Are you a permanent resident alien, i.e. have a green card? If so, the law you cite does not apply.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:44 PM on October 2, 2013

I am a temporary resident with an E3 visa, valid for 2 years and infinite renewals.
posted by jacalata at 1:44 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, you can make other kinds of contributions. From the FEC again:
  • In AO 1989-32, the Commission concluded that although foreign nationals could make disbursements solely to influence ballot issues, a foreign national could not contribute to a ballot committee that had coordinated its efforts with a nonfederal candidate's re-election campaign.
  • In AO 1984-41, the Commission allowed a foreign national to underwrite the broadcast of apolitical ads that attempted to expose the alleged political bias of the media. The Commission found that these ads were not election influencing because they did not mention candidates, political offices, political parties, incumbent federal officeholders or any past or future election.
So you could coordinate with political organizations that support your aims to see if they have some non-election stuff that needs funding.
posted by ubiquity at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2013

Find a us person that you know and trust and give them money, they contribute to some SuperPAC sort of thing, like Emily's List and send you the receipt.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:19 PM on October 2, 2013

There's a certain amount of blurriness about donations from non-"US persons" to 501(c)(4) organisations, which are allowed to engage in lobbying, and where contributions are not tax-deductible. Some (c)(4)s accept donations from non-US-persons, some don't; some organisations have separate (c)(4) and (c)(3) components, one for lobbying and the other for education.

A non-partisan "good government" group like Common Cause might fit the bill, but you'd probably want to contact them before donating to see what their policy is on non-US-person contributions.
posted by holgate at 2:25 PM on October 2, 2013

Find a us person that you know and trust and give them money, they contribute to some SuperPAC sort of thing, like Emily's List and send you the receipt.

IANAL, but giving money to a third party so that they can make a donation on your behalf in order to get around the ban appears to be a violation of federal election law, punishable by tens of thousands of dollars in fines for each violation.
posted by decathecting at 3:32 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

(I am definitely looking for legal above-board options, thanks!)
posted by jacalata at 4:02 PM on October 2, 2013

Donate to Planned Parenthood, just to piss them off.
posted by elizeh at 4:50 PM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

You can donate to Battleground Texas, which is working on building Democratic infrastructure in Texas with the aim of turning Texas blue in the next few years. You can bet that BGTX-trained volunteers will be leading the campaign to unseat Ted Cruz in 2018.
posted by donajo at 7:41 PM on October 2, 2013

You can donate to Battleground Texas

Nope: it has the "I certify that I am a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S" checkbox.
posted by holgate at 9:05 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I believe you can donate to a 501.3c non-profit, which are prohibited from electioneering, but a lot of them do it anyway. Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by empath at 9:32 PM on October 2, 2013

IANAL. I am a guy that dislikes tea partiers.

You would do better to donate your time by volunteering for campaign, which is unquestionably legal. I would urge you to reconsider your aversion to that if you really want to bash the tea partiers!

Just to reiterate, it is a federal crime for a foreign national without a green card to contribute directly or indirectly to any candidate campaign, political party, or political action committee for any federal, state, or local candidate election. This includes everything down to school board and Mosquito Control Board. It is also expressly forbidden for anyone to help you launder money to those organizations.

If you give to a nonprofit, give to them if they are a 501c3. They are forbidden from electioneering but they can take foreign money. Their c4 wings can theoretically take foreign money, but they can't spend it on elections. (This is a legal gray area that I would recommend against being the test case for.)

Planned Parenthood and the like that are c3s are excellent choices! You might not be influencing the elections directly (and should avoid doing that) but these are important issues.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 10:54 PM on October 2, 2013

I am not sure exactly where to send cash, but in general I would focus on anti-gerrymandering, independent redistricting ballot measures and legal appeals. Because the only way to achieve your first aim of targeting these particular reps is to make their districts less safe, right?
posted by pete_22 at 4:45 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone. Common Cause sounds like it works on very relevant causes, and they have a 501c3 education branch which I can donate to.
posted by jacalata at 5:31 PM on October 4, 2013

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