A University System's Back-Channel Way of Lobbying State Officials

August 10, 2016

Supporters of the University of Alabama System -- using a "dark money" nonprofit organization -- appear to have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to political leaders in the state despite laws designed to prevent nonprofit institutions from lobbying, AL.com reported. The investigative report examines an entity called the Alabama Association for Higher Education, which describes itself as "promoting common business interests of all nonprofit institutions of higher learning in the state of Alabama along with their respective affiliated organizations in the health care, research and service sectors," according to AL.com. It reports that the group has received $1.4 million since 2014 and has donated $541,000 to a single entity, Innovation PAC -- more than $300,000 of which has been contributed to leading politicians in Alabama.

Representatives of the two organizations declined AL.com's requests for comment, but a University of Alabama spokesperson told the website that the university, while a "member" of the higher education association, is not involved in any decisions about political contributions.

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