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Name: Political and Lobbying Activities Policy
Responsible Office: Advancement

Applies to: (examples; Faculty,Staff, Students, etc)

Faculty , Staff , Students

Policy Overview:

Issued: 03-11-2020
Next Review Date: 05-23-2024
Frequency of Reviews: Annually

This policy outlines the scope of permissible and impermissible conduct applicable to the University as a tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code and recipient of federal research funding.  

Applies to all faculty, staff, and students.


Lobbying Activities:  Attempting to influence legislation or actions by a governmental law making body with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, proposed regulations, confirmation of appointees, or similar activity by the public in the form of referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or other procedures.  Lobbying activities covered under the Internal Revenue Code do not include actions by executive, judicial or administrative bodies; however, NIH grantees are restricted on use of appropriated funds for lobbying, advocacy, or attempts to influence deliberations or actions by federal, state, or local legislative or executive branches.

Political Campaign Activities:  Contributions, public statements, or other direct or indirect support in favor or in opposition to a candidate for public office.


Section 503 of the Internal Revenue Code prohibit the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis as a tax-exempt organization from directly or indirectly participating in political campaigns or supporting candidates for public office.  Additionally, a substantial part of the University’s overall activities may not involve lobbying to influence legislation.  Federal law prohibits use of appropriated funds by NIH grantees, either directly or indirectly, for advocacy, lobbying, and related activities.

The University may engage in or sponsor activities that promote non-partisan voter education and participation in the electoral process.  It may also provide equal opportunities for political candidates to access University facilities in a non-partisan manner. The University must sponsor and approve all lobbying activities to ensure effective monitoring.  Lobbying does not include educational activities on public policy issues.


  1. Approvals

Any student or student organization or group seeking to engage in or sponsor non-partisan political campaign or lobbying activities must submit a written request for approval to the Vice President of Campus Life.  Departments or employees must obtain approval from the Director, Human Resources.

The Vice President of Campus Life and Director of Human Resources will consult with the President and General Counsel to obtain authorization to approve the proposed activity and establish appropriate parameters to ensure compliance.  Failure to obtain approvals or violation of established rules and regulations or conditions of approvals may result in disciplinary action.  The University reserves the right to approve or deny a request for any reason that it deems to be in the best interest of the institution.

II. Guidelines

  1. Permissible Activities

The following activities may be allowed while observing the following guidelines:  the activities are conducted in a non-partisan or neutral manner or setting; equal opportunities are extended to all legally-qualified candidates; no campaigning, fundraising or endorsement occurs; questions or data is presented in a non-biased or partisan manner; and any personal appearances are coordinated as speeches, questions and answers to create an academic setting as opposed to a campaign rally or event.

  1. Educational programs or publishing materials to increase public knowledge or awareness or encouraging participation in the electoral process


  1. Voter registration/Get-out-the vote activities


  1. Candidate questionnaires and publication of the results


  1. Public opinion polls


  1. Publishing voting records of all members of Congress on major legislative issues


  1. Providing opportunities to speak to all legally qualified political candidates


  1. Institution-sponsored public forums inviting all legally qualified candidates to speak


  1. Individual candidates speaking in a non-candidate capacity without reference to election


B. Public policy education activities


C. Institutional Resources

  1. Student participating in campaign of their choice without University influence as part of a course, program or educational activity relating to the political process


  1. Rearranging academic calendar to allow participation in the election process


  1. Providing financial and administrative support to a student newspaper that publishes editorial opinions on political and legislative matters


  1. Allowing established student groups or individual students and employees to use institutional facilities for partisan political purposes, including candidate appearances on campus, provided that established charges, if any, are paid, appropriate disclaimers of institutional endorsement are issued, and no campaign activities occur.


  1. Providing hyperlinks to all legally qualified candidate web pages as part of a non-partisan, voter education initiative


D. Prohibited Activities

  1. Conducting voter education activities confined to a narrow range of issues or skewed in favor of certain candidates or a political party


  1. Publishing ratings of political candidates


  1. Endorsing political candidates (posting of signs, contributing to campaign funds, public statements praising a political candidate in relation to holding public office)


  1. Commenting on specific actions, statements or positions taken by candidates (comment on specific issues pertinent to the University's tax-exempt purposes is permissible)


  1. Promoting voting on issues highly identified with a specific candidate (comment on specific issues critical to tax-exempt purposes is permissible)


  1. Coordinating voter education activities with campaign events


  1. Wearing buttons, hats, t-shirts, or posting signs in office windows, cubicles, etc. favoring candidates


  1. Coordinating institutional fund-raising with political fund-raising by a political party or candidate


  1. Reimbursing university officials for campaign contributions or related expenditures


  1. Providing mailing lists, use of office space, telephones, copiers, or other facilities or equipment free of charge. May sell or lease at fair market value provided equal opportunity provided to all legally qualified candidates


  1. Use of institutional letterhead by a political party or candidate


  1. Sponsoring events to support a particular candidate


  1. Use of message boards and forums affiliated with the University’s website to support a particular candidate without a disclaimer that the opinions is not sanctioned nor attributable to the University


  1. Providing hyperlinks to webpages or space on the University’s website in a partisan manner


  1. Providing candidate forums to promote campaign without extending equal opportunity to all legally qualified candidates


  1. Using University resources to conduct political fundraising


  1. Public statements by institutional officials endorsing/supporting a candidate or political party


E. NIH Lobbying Guidance

In addition to compliance with the lobbying restrictions imposed under the Internal Revenue Code, the NIH has provided the following guidelines for NIH grantees.

  1. NIH funds may be used to highlight and translate public health evidence; collect and analyze data; publish and disseminate research results; research on policy alternatives and their impact; educate the public on personal health behavior or choices; implement prevention strategies; conduct community outreach services; foster coalition building and consensus on public health initiatives; provide non-partisan analysis, study, or research reports and technical assistance requested by a legislative body or committee; or foster safe and healthful environments.
  2. NIH funds may not be used to directly or indirectly attempt to induce the general public to contact elected officials to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation or appropriations, regulation, or government action; to attempt to influence deliberations or actions by federal, state, or local legislative or executive branches including communications to a public official that refer to and reflect the University’s view on specific issues; provide research reports to allies or a narrow or selective audience; or present materials relating to public policies that may require legislative or executive action that do not include an objective, balanced presentation of the evidence.

F. Byrd Amendment

Additionally, the Byrd Amendment makes it unlawful for the University to engage in advocacy with members of federal government agencies and Congress to perpetuate or increase federal funding.






General Counsel

Socializing policy and providing legal advice

Vice President, Campus Life

Review and approve student activities; enforce policy

Director, Human Resources

Review and approve employee activities; enforce policy

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