Is AARP Tax-Exempt?

The short answer is yes—it’s a 501(c)4 non-profit.  Follow-up question: should it continue in that status?

If the information outlined in Kimberly Strassel’s Wall Street Journal article last Friday is accurate, I suggest the follow-up’s answer should be “No.”

…AARP worked through 2009-10 as an extension of a Democratic White House, toiling daily to pass [Obamacare].  We know that despite AARP’s awareness that its seniors overwhelmingly opposed the bill, the “nonpartisan membership organization” chose to serve the president’s agenda.

71 pages of emails tell the story.  For instance,

As early as July 2009, Mr. Sloane [AARP Senior Vice President David] was sending the administration—”as promised”—his “message points” on Medicare.  Ms. DeParle [an Obama senior aide Nancy-Ann] assured him “I think you will hear some of your lines tomorrow” in President Obama’s speech—which he did.  Mr. Rother [AARP Policy Chief John] advised the White House on its outreach, discouraging Mr. Obama from addressing seniors since “he may not be the most effective messinger [sic]…at least to the McCain constituency.”  Better to manage these folks, he counsels, through the “authoritative voices of doctors and nurses.”


Ms. LeaMond [AARP Executive Vice President Nancy] worried that the Medicare spin wasn’t working against public criticism of the bill.  She emailed Mr. Messina [another Obama senior aide Jim] and Ms. DeParle that she was “seized” with “concerns about extended coherent, strong messaging by Republicans on the Medicare savings.”  To pull off the legislation, she mused, “we”—the White House and AARP—will need a “concerted strategy.”

And so on, including AARP internal polling passed on to DeParle and Messina that indicated AARP’s membership opposed the developing Obamacare by 98%.  This last isn’t legally relevant to AARP’s tax exempt status; it just shows how…out of touch…AARP management was with its membership.

Plainly, the aggregate of these emails demonstrates violation of the non-partisan requirement for such non-profits.


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