Is U of Alabama funneling 'dark money' to political causes?
- Funds donated by the University of Alabama to a nonprofit Alabama Association for Higher Education have directed more than $1.4 million of those funds to political candidates and political action committees in the state since 2014.
- Alabama is a part of a growing number of institutions nationwide with ties to higher education advocacy which also have the 501(c)(6) status, which allows non-reporting of individual and institutional donors to their stated causes.
- The nonprofit giving is a unique contrast to the federal government's inquiries on college endowments with $500 million or more.
College leaders must find great irony in the notion that there are nonprofit shelters which can legally receive and distribute funds for political causes and campaigns without much inquiry, but that the federal government can create significant media coverage about the legal fundraising and revenue bearing strategies of endowment funds.
Institutional board members and supporters should be cautious in supporting the creation or funding of nonprofits like these, because with political and financial capital up for grabs in the fall, there's no telling how legislators might react to a cause involving the public trust, in the name of transparency.