Alabama Ethics Commission: One nonprofit’s board members don’t have to file quarterly reports — for now
At its meeting this week, the Alabama Ethics Commission gave the board members of one nonprofit a reprieve from having to file quarterly reports – at least until June.
The commission granted the board members of the Birmingham Airport Authority an extension from having to file quarterly reports required of those designated as principals under Alabama ethics laws.
The commission granted a similar extension to the airport’s board members on the requirement they file statements of economic interests. Statements of economic interests are annual disclosures required of certain public officials and public employees.
Attorney Mark White spoke in front of the commission on behalf of his client, the Birmingham Airport Authority. He presented several issues which remain unclear for nonprofits and their board members.
White outlined that he sought a formal opinion based on the commission’s own recommendation.
“In fact, part of the reason we are asking this is when the commission staff did the training for the Birmingham Airport Authority in December, they were told – three brand new board members, by the way – they were told the only way you could really be sure about something was to get a formal opinion,” White told the commission. “Frankly, I think that’s good advice.”
Earlier this year, the Alabama Association of Nonprofits asked the commission to issue a formal opinion confirming that individual board members of nonprofits did not have to file quarterly reports with the commission if that nonprofit had hired a lobbyist.
The commission did not answer that question when it issued an opinion to the association.
One legal expert has expressed concern that the uncertainty in the law could harm nonprofits and charitable causes.
“We want people to be involved in their communities and be involved in non-profits and things like that,” said attorney Matt McDonald. “So we don’t need to have this thing be so fuzzy that we’re going to deter people from being involved in their communities. We need to have good ethics laws, and we need to have good, qualified people who want to be public officials.”
Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News