Bill Codifies the Johnson Amendment Federal Restriction on Non-Profit Corporations Participating or Intervening in Political Campaigns in New York Law 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.4347/A.623) restricting non-profit corporations from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or against a candidate running for public office. The measure codifies the federal restriction on non-profit corporations participating or intervening in political campaigns, also known as the JohnsonAmendment. Since the Trump administration took office it has repeatedly attempted to weaken the protections provided by the Johnson Amendment and has continuously misled the public by incorrectly suggesting the Johnson Amendment had been repealed.

“For too long we have listened to the Trump administration threaten to remove common sense protections prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from engaging in inappropriate political activities,” Governor Cuomo said. “New Yorkers have a right to free and fair elections, and this law will further protect our democracy from unjustified interferences once and for all.” 

The Johnson Amendment has been in place since 1954. It prevents non-profits, including religious organizations, from becoming politicized and endorsing candidates or making donations to campaigns. Recently, there have been efforts by Congress to repeal it, and in May 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order purporting to loosen the Johnson Amendment‘s requirements. In June 2018, the New York Office of the Attorney General filed a civil complaint alleging in part that the Donald J. Trump Foundation had violated the Johnson Amendment‘s prohibition on providing support to candidates in an office which resulted in the Foundation’s dissolution. Codifying the Johnson Amendment into New York law will ensure that even if Congress repealed it, non-profit corporations in New York State would still be prohibited from engaging in political activity.