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Tenet 7 and NRA Memberships

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Skylor Miller

I was recently at an ethics seminar and affiliation with political organizations came up as a tangential discussion. There was a question raised as to whether a city manager could maintain an NRA membership without violating Tenet 7. The NRA is a politically active lobby group but for most members is simply a resource for their personal pursuits.

Under the ICMA ethics guidelines, it states,"Personal Advocacy of Issues. Members share with their fellow citizens the right and responsibility to voice their opinion on public issues. Members may advocate for issues of personal interest only when doing so does not conflict with the performance of their official duties."

So, can an ICMA member maintain a NRA membership? How active a member can an ICMA member be within the NRA and other similar pro-2nd Amendment groups? For example, can an ICMA member attend a community-organized "Friends of the NRA" fundraising dinner?


Answers

 
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Martha Perego

An ICMA member can maintain membership in the NRA without violating the ICMA Code of Ethics. Here is why and how. The commitment to political neutrality under Tenet 7 draws the distinction between supporting a candidate for elected office (not allowed) and supporting an issue (allowed). The guideline on Personal Advocacy of Issues was added to the slew of candidate/election guidelines to make that point clearer.
NRA dues payments go to promote the organization’s mission, member benefits, training, education, etc. Membership dues do not go to fund direct payments to candidates running for office or to political parties. The NRA has a separate PAC (Political Victory Fund) for that purpose. As a NRA member, are you aligning with an organization that supports individual candidates? Yes. Are your dues payments going to support individual candidates? No.
On the issue front, a member can voice their personal opinion publicly, advocate for changes to the law, provide financial support, and even serve on the board of an issue oriented organization. You should consider how your personal engagement may affect your work.

Where a member has to draw the line though is giving time or money to an organization that is directly funding candidates for elected office. If that dinner party is to raise funds for candidates, stay home.

 
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Skylor Miller

Thank you Martha. That explanation makes perfect sense.

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