History of Ballot Measure Committees Using Nonprofit Status for Mailing

Last night I linked to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle “Cash-rich, Uber-backed Prop. 22 campaign scrimps on postage.” The article starts: “Proposition 22, the ballot measure to exempt Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers from being employees, got a nonprofit postal permit for its deluge of glossy mailers, allowing it to save millions on postage.”

I was asked to give comment for this article about the use of nonprofit status for mailing, and I initially declined, because I am not following the Prop. 22 campaign finance issues closely and my expertise is on the federal, not state, side. The reporter then pushed for a general statement, and I said: ““I have never heard of a campaign using nonprofit status for campaign mailers and cannot think of any circumstances where that would be appropriate.”‘

That statement was true—I had never heard of it and it didn’t seem appropriate to me. But I’ve since learned from an election lawyer (who I believe may be representing the campaign) that there have been numerous instances of ballot measure committees using nonprofit status for mailing. There was even a 2006 case, Alliance for a Better California v. USPS, where a party challenged an opposing ballot measure committee for using this status with USPS, and the federal court dismissed the case for lack of standing.

It still seems wrong to me that ballot measure committees can do this, but I now know that there is a history of committees using the status for mailings.

It’s my own fault for giving a quote after initially declining. I regret giving a statement that reflects my ignorance on this question.

This post was originally published by the Election Law Blog.


  1. You know, if it were not for the greedy labor unions and the power mad corrupt politicians efforts to force this obvious extortion attempt upon them, neither Uber nor Lyft would be in this position in the first place, now would they?


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