Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

AARP Debate Raises Concerns

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

AARP Debate Raises Concerns

Article excerpt

Recent congressional scrutiny of the monolithic American Association of Retired Persons, which publishes the 22.2 million-circulation Modern Maturity, has put other similarly structured organizations--and their magazines--on the alert.

During two hearings held in June, Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) and the Senate Finance subcommittee questioned whether the 33 million-member AARP--which took in nearly $156 million last year just in product endorsements and marketing agreements (overall revenues were $469 million)--should be allowed to maintain its nonprofit, tax-exempt status. Also at issue: whether it is a conflict of interest for the association and other nonprofit groups to lobby the government if they are receiving federal funds.

The Senate subsequently passed an amendment to the Lobby Reform Bill, which stipulates that 501 -C-4 groups (an Internal Revenue Service designation that grants charitable groups nonprofit, tax-exempt status and the right to lobby without financial limit) are not eligible to receive or administer any federal monies. Meanwhile, the House passed legislation of its own in early August that would prohibit groups that spend more than 5 percent of their budget on lobbying from receiving further grant money.

Charles Allen, AARP's director of publications, says that if the legislation passes both houses, it won't affect the bimonthly modern Maturity or Bulletin, the group's newspaper, because federal monies are kept entirely separate from the association's operating budget. …

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