Politics

Employee Donations, Lobbying Show AARP, Other ‘Non-Partisan’ Non-Profits Tilt Left

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American Lung Association employees have donated solely to Democrats in every election cycle except one since 1990.

The anomaly year was 2012, when ALA employees donated $1,000 to Republicans, compared with $32,590 to Democrats in total over the last 25 years.

Millions of Americans of all political persuasions donate to cancer prevention and other quality-of-life causes supported by nonprofit organizations with the assumption that partisan politics doesn’t enter the equation for such groups.

But employee political contributions and lobbying records reveal that the most neutral-sounding nonprofit organizations can be a far cry from nonpartisan in the thinking of individual workers and the lobbying activities springing from their workplaces.

Non-profits aren’t allowed to make partisan organizational contributions, but individual employees at the ALA, American Cancer Society, and American Association of Retired Persons all lean one way when it comes to political donations — left.

Since 1990, American Cancer Society employees have funneled 74 percent of their $172,723 in political contributions to federal-level Democratic candidates, and just 25 percent, or $58,045, to Republican candidates, according to OpenSecrets.org data analyzed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Similarly, AARP employees gave 85 percent of their roughly $214,000 in total donations to Democrats, and just 14 percent to Republicans over the last 25 years.

Spokesmen for the three groups weren’t too keen to address how their apolitical mission statements align with the partisan leanings of individual employees.

Elissa McCrary, managing director of ACS media relations, for example, said ACS doesn’t “make donations to any political campaigns or support candidates,” but declined to comment when asked about the overwhelming advantage for Democrats from ACS workers.

Employee donations only tell part of the story. The ALA, which spends roughly $150,000 on lobbying at the federal level annually, has thus far in 2015 lobbied Congress on the Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board Act, the Secret Science Reform Act, the Agency PAYGO for Greenhouse Gases Act, Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act, the Clean Air and Strong Economies Act and many more environmental-related bills.

The ALA also received millions of tax dollars. The EPA has awarded ALA and its chapters 110 grants and sub-awards worth more than $14 million since 2008, according to USASpending.gov data.

The AARP lobbied heavily on behalf of congressional approval of Obamacare in 2010 and in 2013 for passage of the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013.

AARP did not return requests for comment, and Kaiser Permanente representatives said no one was available to speak with media on Monday.

But the ALA stood by its history.

“The mission of the American Lung Association is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease,” said Allison MacMunn, ALA national director of media relations. “One of the Lung Association’s strategic imperatives is improving the air we breathe so it will not cause or worsen lung disease.”

“The American Lung Association has a long history of implementing educational programs along with other efforts to protect public health,” MacMunn continued. “Through a competitive application process, the Lung Association has also received EPA and other federal funded grants in recent years. However, these funds are restricted to the Lung Association’s expertise and ability to deliver effective programs and policies that combat lung disease, such as reducing exposure to radon, which causes lung cancer.”

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.