ASTRA Urges U.S. House Members to Support Economic Recovery Bill

by on October 2, 2008 · 10 comments

I received the most fascinating email from a group called ASTRA just now. I don’t think I ever even heard of them before, but apparently I’m on their mailing list. ASTRA is the Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Most people know that non-profits are not allowed to lobby for passage or failure of legislation. So let me now share with you ASTRA’s email to me. It may not be orginated by ASTRA and there could be several innocent explanations, but on the surface this looks like a clear violation of non-profit rules by an over-excited Washington, D.C. supplicant group.

[Update: Cooler heads have it right. Non-profits are allowed to spend some percentage of their funds on lobbying. What I’ve noted here is an unclear violation of non-profit rules. What’s clear is that ASTRA is a big-government supplicant group not to be trusted by proponents of liberty and limited government.]


Dear Friend of ASTRA:


The U.S. Senate has passed by a wide margin (74-25) an Economic Recovery Bill that contains important provisions beneficial to the science, engineering and technology communities – in addition to the massive restructuring made necessary by the current financial crisis

The Senate measure includes the important tax incentives which either expired earlier this year or will by December 31.  The House will now vote on these provisions as well.  They include extension of the Research & Experimentation (R&E) Tax Credit and the soon to expire Alternative Energy tax incentives which make it more economically feasible to deploy alternative energy sources including solar, wind and geothermal power.


ASTRA urges you to consider contacting your Member of the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on the measure as early as tomorrow, Friday, October 3.

In particular, “Friends of ASTRA” who live in districts represented by so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats should communicate their support of the measure.  These individual Members who voted “No” against the original package include:

Baca (CA)
Barrow (GA)
Carney (PA)
Chandler (KY)
Davis (TN)
Giffords (AZ)
Gillibrand (NY)
Hill (IN)
Holden (PA)
Lampson (TX)
Matheson (UT)
McIntyre (NC)
Michaud (ME)
Peterson (MN)
Salazar (CO)
Sanchez, L (CA)
Herseth-Sandlin (SD)
Schiff (CA)
Shuler (NC)
Scott (GA)
Taylor (MS)
Thompson (CA)

House Republicans who voted “No” against the original package but who might now be amenable to supporting the new measure also need to be contacted.  They include:

Aderholt (AL)
Alexander (LA)
Barton (TX)
Biggert (IL)
Bishop (UT)
Blackburn (TN)
Brown-Waite (FL)
Boustany (LA)
Conaway (TX)
D. Davis ( TN)
Dent (PA)
Fallin (OK)
Frelinghuysen (NJ)
Gerlach (PA)
Gingrey (GA)
Goodlatte (VA)
Hall (TX)
Hastings (WA)
S. Johnson (TX)
Latham (IA)
Latta (OH)
LaTourette (OH)
Lucas (OK)
McHenry (NC)
McMorris-Rodgers (WA)
Mica (FL)
J. Miller (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Myrick (NC)
Neugebauer (TX)
Petri (WI)
Pitts (PA)
Price, T. (GA)
Togers (MI)
Ramstad (MN)
Roskam (IL)
Shimkus (IL)
Shuster (PA)
Smith, A. (NE)
Stearns (FL)
Sullivan (OK)
Thornberry (TX)
Tiberi (OH)
Wamp (TN)
Young, B. (FL)
Young (AK)

Time is of the essence.


Please click on the following link, provided by the National Association of Realtors, if you are interested in participating in this exercise.  The link will provide instructions on how you can contact your individual Member of the House.


This message has been sent to approximately 32,000 scientists, engineers, university employees, students, technology workers, policy makers, researchers and others on our “Friends” list.  An estimated total of  150,000 people will be contacted by this message, and we urge you to send it on to any friends, associates and family who may share our interest in passing this critically important legislative measure.

Thank you!

This e-mail was sent by ASTRA, located at 1155 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (USA). To receive no further e-mails, please click here or reply to this e-mail with “unlist” in the Subject line.

  • DB

    They are permitted to spend up to 5% of their budget on this type of lobbying. I would imagine that it doesn't cost very much to draft and send a mass e-mail.

  • vonbob

    It is complete ignorance of the the law to say that a “nonprofit” cannot lobby. This has never been the case. There are at least 29 different varieties of “nonprofit” entity and they have different purposes and reasons for existing. Some, like Spanish American War veterans organizations, probably don't do much any more. Nor do Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Associations (VEBA's)

    Actually, Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) organizations, which ASTRA is according to its own description, may spend any amount of money on lobbying, but there could be adverse tax consequences for membership dues, etc.

    For that reason, most of them are organized as 501(c)(6) entities, or many other such things. Unions are (c)(4)'s. They are tax exempt. They lobby. Trade groups are normally (c)(6)'s. They are tax exempt. They lobby. The list could go on and on.

    Further, please don't confuse lobbying with “advocacy.” ASTRA has asked its “Friends” to weigh in on this one, has suggested why it support the package — because of the so-called extension of the much needed R&E tax credit and the alternative energy tax credit — but even if that is construed as 'Lobbying” which I don't believe it is, its activities are well within the so-called safe harbor rule which the prior comment states is 5%.

    Readers should know that when a membership organization urges its own adherents to say something to elected officials, that is called “grassroots” lobbying, and nothing, except repeal of the U.S. Constitution, or some Supreme Court case to void this cherished First Amendment “RIGHT TO PETITION.” Nothing precludes the right of ASTRA's own members to voice their positions to elected officials, except perhaps erroneous information about what they can and cannot do.

    Find out more about ASTRA at or its other Site

  • floatpoint

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