The office of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's office has responded to a request by the JFP to clarify the legal status of a campaign for municipal office being incorporated as a non-profit organization.
In response to the question "Can a campaign set up as a unincorporated nonprofit corporation?" the SOS office responded "A nonprofit corporation can be incorporated for any lawful activity."
In regards to the second question "Can an incorporated non-profit organization serve as the fundraising arm of a municipal election campaign?" the state office answered "A corporation may perform any lawful activity. A contribution made by a corporation to a candidate, political party or committee is limited to $1,000 per calendar year."
At hand is the campaign of Jackson mayoral candidate Regina Quinn, which is set up as an incorporated non-profit organization. It's important to note that Quinn's campaign is the only one in the mayoral race set up in this way. But running for public office certainly falls under the category of "any lawful activity," so it appears Quinn's campaign is on solid legal ground.
Sources from other campaigns raised questions as to the legal status of a campaign being organized as a non-profit, and Regina's husband John May, Jr., who filed the paperwork to incorporate "Jackson United to Elect Regina Quinn Mayor" admitted to the JFP he had received conflicting responses on separate dates from the secretary of state's office as to whether it would be considered legal.
It is a confusing situation to all but political gurus, but the answers we received to these questions seem to back up the claims from May, who is also an attorney, that everything the campaign is doing is legitimate.
In an e-mail to the JFP Thursday afternoon, Quinn explained the campaign's decision to form as a non-profit.
"We set up our political committee as a nonprofit in light of the fact that we wanted to make it clear to our contributors that we are not seeking to profit from my running for Mayor." Quinn wrote. "Win or lose, we will donate any excess funds to charity. Also, our organization is permissible under state statute and within the guidelines of the Secretary of State's Office for political campaigns."