Policy, Politics and Charity

The CFC is embroiled in an unwelcome controversy.

It was probably inevitable. In fact, the surprise is that it doesn’t happen more often.

The Combined Federal Campaign has run into a legal buzzsaw and political controversy.

The Combined Federal Campaign is a conglomeration of a long list of “charities,” some of which are advocacy groups for one cause or another. A combination of the necessity to make federal policy on world wide issues, national security requirements, lots of money and the intensity of political advocacy groups included in the CFC is a volatile combination.

With a new requirement that these groups screen for terrorist organizations getting money from federal employees, the possiblity of controversy, press releases, confrontation and, of course, lawsuits seems inevitable.

The controversy hit the public airwaves last week with the American Civil Liberties Union, which received about $500,000 from the campaign last year, protesting the new requirement. The ACLU doesn’t like the Patriot Act and probably doesn’t care much for many of the policies of the current administration anyway.

The ACLU is known for using the legal process to impose its political will on organizations or in creating policies with which it agrees and isn’t hesitant to seek a little publicity in the process. It isn’t adverse to taking on the federal government and does so on a regular basis.

The ACLU said, in effect, the CFC could keep its $500,000 and promptly hit the airwaves with a barrage of publicity about how the rquirement to check its lists was unfair or unwise or just a bad idea. The negative publicity may hurt some good charities since no one really knows how all this will impact the upcoming annual charitable event but anyone who thought such an impact would stall lawsuits and political controversy must have been living on a remote island.

Amnesty International and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are also reportedly dropping out of the CFC as a result of the controversy and policy of requiring certification that they do not “knowingly employ” suspected terrorists.

OPM, which administers the Combined Federal Campaign, says it is required to prohibit Americans from having financial ties with suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations.

The ACLU says the requirement violates its right to privacy.

No doubt, the issue will go to court. What we don’t know is how many people will choose to vote on the issue this year by just ignoring the whole thing and choosing not to send their money to the CFC. That probably won’t happen but, if it does, some of the combatants may just look on it as money well spent as they advance their own political interests and noble causes.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47