Above are two of several postcards sent out by the South Dakota Gun Owners operation in this years’ primary election campaigns. You know those guys, don’t you? If not, SDGO bills itself as..
South Dakota Gun Owners is an un-incorporated not-for-profit association allied with, and similar to, Gun Owners of America allied with the National Association for Gun Rights. Combined, SDGO and NAGR have over 12,000 members in South Dakota. An Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations and is accountable to the Board of Directors.
Which might be fine and dandy as far as their non-profit status is concerned with the IRS. But as I was glancing at these cards today, I noticed something very curious.
Obviously, I do a lot of mail for political candidates and organizations, and this mailing permit hit me like a slap across the face.
The mailing comes out not from the SD Gun Owners themselves (which they’ve declared as a non-profit), but from South Dakota Gun Owners PAC, a political action committee. A political organization is sending the mailing, yet, the mailing permit is such that they’re mailing out at non-profit rates reserved for charities and political parties.
Is it improper to do so? Well, the US Post Office is pretty specific on what political organizations can access non-profit rates:
The following political committees may be authorized to mail at the nonprofit rates without regard to their nonprofit status:
• National committee of a political party (the organization responsible for the party’s day-to-day operation at the national level).
• State committee of a political party (the organization responsible for the party’s day-to-day operation at the state level).
• The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
• The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
• The National Republican Congressional Committee.
• The National Republican Senatorial Committee.
There are allowances for “Educational Groups,” but somehow I think the SDGO would be hard pressed to make the case that a mailing for the PAC is coming from a non-profit educational group.
Sources tell me that mailing permit #7539 appears to be registered to Preferred Printing in Sioux Falls, which was noted to me as mainly handling Democrat mail, which they thought was curious as well, coming from these alleged staunch-ultra conservatives.
I’m doing some more digging on this, as it appears that SDGO might have found a way to game the system of non-profit mailings to let a PAC unaffiliated with a political party send bulk mail at a greatly reduced price.
And if so, I’d like to be able to figure out that method and exploit it as well. Or, they haven’t. Which in that case, I won’t be able to either.
But at least, the playing field will be leveled.