Cascade Bicycle Club can continue endorsing and campaigning for electoral candidates after the board rejected the idea of becoming a charity nonprofit only.
Cascade Bicycle Club will retain its ability to endorse and campaign directly for electoral candidates, its board of directors has decided.
The Seattle-based club, which boasts more than 15,000 members, had since December been weighing whether to curb its own political influence.
Cascade currently operates with three arms: a 501(c)(3) charity nonprofit, 501(c)(4) political and social-welfare nonprofit and a political-action committee (PAC).
Because each entity has a different tax-exempt status, Cascade must take special care to handle various funds and activities separately. Hoping to simplify operations, club leaders asked the board to consider becoming a charity nonprofit only.
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Charity nonprofits can endorse ballot measures but are prohibited from endorsing individual candidates and from contributing directly to candidate campaigns.
Some Cascade members supported the proposal, arguing that the club should focus on bike rides and education rather than the sometimes nasty world of politics.
Others pressured the board to maintain the 45-year-old club’s current structure, arguing that Cascade’s substantial political influence would wane without endorsements and direct campaigning.
The club was important in the 2009 Seattle mayoral race, has pushed the Seattle City Council for bike-safety projects and has put resources into suburban elections.
Cascade leaders took comments from members at two meetings earlier this month — one in Seattle and one in Bellevue. The club has members all over the region.
The board voted 9-2 on Wednesday night to keep its different arms and Cascade will announce its Seattle City Council endorsements Friday, a spokeswoman said.
“We are very grateful to everyone who provided their input in this decision and I am very pleased with our direction going forward,” the board’s president, Catherine Hennings, said in a statement.
The board at the same time voted to create a task force to investigate how best to restructure Cascade’s various entities “to clarify each organization’s activities and operations.”
Results may include new, distinct names for the different arms and a policy of having the charity nonprofit handle most of Cascade’s activities, according to board documents.