Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Social welfare organization or political party? Why No Labels may need a label


For months, the group No Labels has launched an aggressive voter access campaign, aiming to register a candidate for the 2024 presidential election in as many states as possible. No Labels says it wants to offer American voters “a better choice” than what seems increasingly likely from the major parties: a rematch between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

Although the group managed to get on the ballot in 14 states, critics have raised questions about how No Labels, which is not a political party, plans to field a 2024 presidential candidate.

What is the absence of a label?

No Labels was founded in 2009 by Nancy Jacobson – the wife of Mark Penn, who was Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist during her Senate campaign and first presidential campaign – as a 501(c) organization. (4). This tax designation means that No Labels is a social welfare organization, a group that “may engage in political campaigns on behalf of or against candidates for public office provided that such intervention is not the primary activity of the organization,” according to the IRS. Initially, No Labels aimed to unite Democrats and Republicans to try to solve some of Congress’s most intractable problems.

But in 2021, its mission had evolved. No Labels has begun work on a nationwide ballot access project to “enable the potential nomination of an independent Unity ticket in 2024,” its website states.

In seeking to get on the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., No Labels has sparked a backlash from Democratic leaders and groups who fear the group’s candidate could take President Biden’s votes and hand the presidency to Trump.

Some Democratic members and groups in Congress have also accused No Labels of acting like a political party, despite its status as a tax-exempt welfare organization.

No Labels chief strategist Ryan Clancy said No Labels does not act as a party because it “does not specifically advocate for or against [a] candidate.”

“A group like No Labels has the right to run for office without being considered a political committee,” he said.

But in some states where it won a vote, No Labels has already been recognized as a political party. Maine’s secretary of state recently recognized it as an official political party earlier this year after reaching the necessary signature threshold, the state election commission said.

William Galston, one of the group’s co-founders, told CBS News that he decided to part ways with the movement when its “mission changed” and he began working on his possible independent 2024 presidential movement.

“I decided that this was such an important issue to me that I could no longer, in good conscience, hold a fairly senior and visible advisory position within No Labels,” Galston said.

Two No Labels donors accuse the group of “bait and switch”

This alleged change in mission is already the subject of a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court. In January, two members of the Durst family, one of New York City’s most prominent real estate families, accused the group of being a “bait and switch,” saying No Labels had strayed from its original mission to encourage bipartisan legislation to pursue a possible third goal in 2024. -Party presidential candidacy.

The lawsuit says No Labels solicited funds nearly a decade ago by launching “bipartisan activism aimed at achieving common-sense solutions that appeal to the average American.” It’s a goal that convinced Douglas and Jonathan Durst to donate $145,000 to the group. But the Durst cousins ​​now regret it, saying No Labels “lost its way, abandoned its original mission and fundamentally betrayed its donors’ trust in the process.”

No Labels’ finances have also been called into question in recent months, as its organization as a social welfare organization means it is not required to disclose its donors. However, political parties must regularly disclose who their donors are and the amount of their donations.

The group says it will resolve this problem. At a press briefing last year, Clancy said that once a campaign with a candidate was announced, No Labels would be “subject to all campaign finance requirements.” No Labels spokeswoman Martini clarified that it would be the ticket – the presidential and vice-presidential candidate, not No Labels – that would be subject to campaign finance laws, and that the ticket “would be entirely separate from the No Labels 501(c)(4) organization.”

When will No Labels announce its presidential candidate?

No Labels is still considering whether to pursue its presidential unity project. Clancy said the group should make a decision on the matter “around mid-March.”

Although No Labels has provided little information about its candidate selection process, it has announced that it will hold a virtual convention and then announce a candidate. The group did not specify who, if anyone, would be eligible, but mentioned that the selection process would be conducted by its own members.

Galston believes that although the group claims to be bipartisan, former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s influence on No Labels shows that the group prefers to “put a Republican at the top of the ticket,” [rather] than a Democrat.” Hogan resigned from the No Labels board earlier this year and endorsed Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. He announced Friday that he is a candidate for the Senate.

Haley was praised by No Labels founding chairman and former independent senator Joseph Lieberman as someone who “definitely deserves serious consideration” when CBS News asked about putting her at the top of a No Labels ticket.

“If we decide to present a ticket, we will have all the details on exactly how that ticket will be selected,” Clancy said. “Our goal is to make sure that we can just get on the ballot, because that’s really all if you’re not on the ballot, that whole discussion is academic,” he added.

Where did No Labels qualify for the ballot?

So far, No Labels has failed to qualify for the ballot in 14 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah.

Clancy says No Labels should be able to gain access to ballots in 32 states, as some states will only allow the group to qualify “as a placeholder” for a candidate.

For this reason, Martini said that regarding about a dozen states, it is the candidate who would pursue qualification because of state requirements that there be an actual candidate or because “access requirements in the ballot are much less burdensome for the candidate.” continue only for No Labels to continue without the candidate. She pointed out that in Massachusetts, for example, the state would require 60,000 signatures from an organization like No Labels, “but only 10,000 from a candidate.”

Thirteen states require a nominated candidate: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misinterpreted a comment made by Ryan Clancy, chief strategist of No Labels. The article has been updated.



Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.cbsnews.com

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