FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the legal status of the RI Political Cooperative?
The RI Political Cooperative is a non-profit corporation: it has no shareholders or owners and accrues no profit. It is not the type of non-profit organization that is tax exempt. Tax exempt “public charity” or “social welfare” non-profit organizations (designated as 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organizations) are restricted in their ability to provide campaign services to candidates. Providing those services is essential to the mission of the RI political cooperative. It chooses therefore to forego a tax exemption and pay taxes on any net income.
What does the RI Political Cooperative provide campaigns and how do the finances work?
The RI Political Cooperative supports candidates and their campaigns in three ways. First, it enables a slate of like-minded candidates who support a common policy agenda and don’t take campaign contributions from corporate PACs, corporate lobbyists or the fossil fuel industry to run together – helping, supporting and learning from each other. Second, it provides comprehensive direct services to each campaign, including candidate training; campaign manager recruitment, training and oversight; campaign plan development; communications support; and developing, training and deploying a statewide volunteer force for canvassing, phone banking and all other volunteer needs. Third, to counter the power of corporate money in politics, it provides a means for participating candidates to build a statewide grassroots membership program in which RI Political Cooperative members commit to donate monthly to the candidates.
As is required by state campaign finance law, the RI Political Cooperative charges campaigns for the direct services it provides. Otherwise, the services would count as donations to the campaigns in excess of campaign contribution limits.
Is the RI Political Cooperative a PAC?
No, PACs (political action committees) are formed to make contributions to campaigns and to make “independent expenditures” on advertising, canvassing and other activities to support campaigns. The RI Political Cooperative does neither of those things. Instead, it provides services to campaigns that pay for those services.
Is RIPC an actual workers’ cooperative?
No, we use the word cooperative here in the colloquial sense: a group of people – the candidates and the grassroots members – coming together behind a shared mission. The RI Political Cooperative is a non-profit organization.