Lack of Bright Line IRS Nonprofit Rules Provide Free Trips for Members of Congress

Posted May 28, 2013 at 4:41pm

Members of Congress have benefited from the lack of bright line IRS rules for the close and intertwining relationships between 501(c)(3) nonprofits and their 501(c)(4) lobbying arms. There is a distinction but not much difference.

Five members of Congress have just returned from a free trip to Israel paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), an IRS Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  AIEF’s website states it is “affiliated with AIPAC, America’s pro-Israel lobby.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is an IRS Section 501(c)(4) organization. AIPAC spent $2,761,388 on lobbying in 2012.  Senate and House rules state members may not accept gifts of free travel from a lobbyist or entity that retains or employs registered lobbyists.

Since 2000, The American Israel Education Foundation and AIPAC have spent more than $4.8 million providing trips to members, most to Israel. There is no disclosure of who provides the funds to AIEF.

Making the April 29 to May 5 trip were Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., $11,013, Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., $11,139, Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., $11,205, Ed Royce, R-Calif., $11,042, and Brad Sherman, D-Calif., $11,153. Rep. Kay Granger was listed as an invitee, but she has not filed a travel report.

View all privately paid member travel on Political MoneyLine’s private travel database.