TownHall and Heritage Foundation Split
The Washington Times reports that Townhall.com has decided to lbecome a separate entity from the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. The move is apparently aimed at freeing Townhall from restrictions under the tax code and campaign finance laws.
Townhall.com, one of the nation’s most active conservative Web sites, announced yesterday that it has split from parent company the Heritage Foundation, a District-based conservative think tank. It’s a deliberate strategy for Townhall — home to 68 columnists and destination reading for 1.5 million people a month. As an independent entity, Townhall no longer will be subject to Internal Revenue Service regulations that prohibit “educational only” groups from mobilizing followers or taking a distinct political stand.
“This is a happy parting,” said Townhall President Drew Bond. “Heritage has been a critical ally in building our credibility over the years. With this move, we’re now free to fully engage our readers and to call them to action.” Heritage, founded as a public policy research organization in 1973, supports the move. “We’re excited about the new direction,” said spokesman Brian Phillips. “The move is a win-win for both Townhall and for the Heritage Foundation. The more voices in the conservative movement, the better.”
“Townhall has come to bump the ceiling of its own potential. Under Heritage, we could educate people all day long, but we couldn’t tell them what to do,” Mr. Bond said. “Our audience has grown huge, and the technology exists to harness the power of people with shared ideas — as long as you get outside those IRS restrictions.”
Steve Clemons has some interesting thoughts on the matter and argues, correctly, I think, that “the norms governing non-profit public affairs organizations should be strengthened.” As I’ve argued with regards to the NAACP, there should be a bright line between advocacy and electioneering if we’re going to accord groups special tax benefits.