Partisan   PoliticsYou   requested   a   review   of   the   limitations   on   The American   Legion   becoming   involved   in   partisan   political   activities.   It   may   not.   This   is   made   crystal clear   by   36   US   Code   §21706   (part   of   The   American   Legion   Corporate   Charter),   which   states:   “The   corporation   shall   be   nonpolitical   and   may   not   promote   the candidacy of an individual seeking public office.” This is further emphasized by the provisions of Article II, Section 2 of the National Constitution which provides: “The   American   Legion   shall   be   absolutely   nonpolitical   and   shall   not   be   used   for   the   dissemination   of   partisan   principles   nor   for   the   promotion   of   the   candidacy   of any   person   seeking   public   office   or   preferment.”   The   American   Legion   takes   positions   on   issues   and   lobbies   for   veteran’s   benefits   and   a   strong   America.   This   is clearly   permitted.   What   is   not   permitted   is   the   endorsement   of   any   candidate   or   the   donation   of   funds   by The American   Legion   to   a   candidate. The American   Legion takes   positions   on   issues   and   its   members   being   citizens   need   to   be   informed   on   the   issues.   Hence, American   Legion   programs   such   as   candidate   nights   are   fully authorized as long as all candidates are invited on the same terms and conditions. It   would   be   illegal   to   invite   the   one   you   support   with   advance   notice,   but   the   one   you   oppose   with   no   notice   at   all.   When   Legionnaires   wear   their   pins   and   hats   to political   rallies,   the   media   often   try   to   reach   the   wrong   conclusions.   This   can   be   very   embarrassing   to   the   Legionnaire.   Hence,   we   normally   recommend   that Legionnaires   do   not   wear   their   caps   to   partisan   political   rallies.   There   is   no   rule   against   doing   this   so   long   as   the   Legionnaire   makes   it   clear   there   is   no endorsement.   Likewise,   we   recommend   that   Legion   publications   not   accept   paid   political   ads.   However,   if   they   do,   the   paid   political   advertisements   must   be   made on   the   same   terms   and   conditions   for   all   candidates   and   should   be   labeled   “Paid   Political Advertisement”   at   both   the   top   and   bottom.     As   noted   above,   those   who violate the partisan political activities prohibition put the Legion charter of their  post at risk as well as its tax exempt status.
 Date: October 25, 2012 To: Daniel S. Wheeler From: P. B. Onderdonk, Jr., National Judge Advocate
MEMORANDUM
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