ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation Wednesday that restricts non-profit corporations from endorsing or opposing any political candidate.
“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,” Cuomo said in a press release. “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 bill codifies the Johnson Amendment federal restriction on non-profit corporations participating or intervening in political campaigns in New York law.
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, according to the governor’s office.
Codifying the Johnson Amendment into New York law will ensure that even if Congress repealed it, non-profit corporations in New York State would still be prohibited from engaging in political activity, officials from Cuomo’s office say.