Fact Check: A Portion Of What You Pay A.A.R.P. Does NOT Go Directly To The Democratic Party

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fact Check: A Portion Of What You Pay A.A.R.P. Does NOT Go Directly To The Democratic Party Non-Partisan

Does a portion of what people pay A.A.R.P. (the American Association of Retired People) go to the Democratic Party? No, that's not true: The AARP is forbidden by federal tax law, as a non-profit group, from making political contributions. The senior citizen advocacy organization does not have a political action committee.

The claim appeared as a meme in a post (archived here) shared on Facebook August 12, 2020. The meme read:

Are you aware that a portion of what you pay A.A.R.P
Goes directly to the Democratic Party

This what the post looked like on social media at the time of writing:

Are you aware that a portion of what you pay A.A.R.P Goes directly to the Democratic Party πŸ€”

Posted by Linda Harrelson Nelson on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Kelly Quay of FleishmanHillard, the PR firm representing the AARP, told Lead Stories that the AARP is banned from political contributions by federal tax law as a 501c4 tax-exempt group:

Several public databases confirm that AARP has never made donations or political contributions: the FEC database, Open Secrets, etc. Lastly, for years we have surveyed our membership, who report to us that their political leanings are approximately a third conservative, a third liberal, and a third independent or in between. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age.

The AARP is in good standing with the IRS, which monitors 501c4 tax-exempt groups to ensure they comply with the rules. The the IRS website reads:

To be tax-exempt as a social welfare organization described in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 501(c)(4), an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare... The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

AARP policy on the group's website also prohibits endorsements -- or the appearance of endorsements -- of political parties, government officials or candidates for office by board members, staff and volunteer leaders.

The AARP Board of Directors, the National Policy Council, other volunteer leaders and designated staff shall not take part in any public political or partisan activity that may be construed as AARP's endorsement of political parties, government officials, or candidates for any federal, state, or major municipal office.

AARP does not have a PAC -- a Political Action Committee "to raise campaign contributions and influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office," according to Quay.

Lead Stories debunked a similar claim in 2019 in a story titled Fake News: AARP DID NOT Help Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez By Supporting Democrats in the Midterms

  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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