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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek September 18, 2020

No, AARP isn’t sending money to the Democratic Party

If Your Time is short

• AARP is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization.

• AARP has a policy against endorsing or appearing to endorse political parties, government officials or candidates for office.

• This claim has been debunked numerous times by other fact-checking organizations.

You already know the AARP lobbies for the interests of Americans over age 50. But does it also send money to the Democratic Party?

That’s what a popular (and previously debunked) Facebook post claims: 

"Are you aware that a portion of everything you pay A.A.R.P Goes directly to the Democratic Party," a Facebook post asks.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The post’s claim is untrue. AARP as an organization does not support the Democratic Party, and the claim has been debunked by fact-checkers before

An AARP spokesperson, Jason Young, confirmed that AARP is strictly nonpartisan. 

Young said AARP is a tax-exempt social welfare organization in good standing with the IRS, and pointed PolitiFact to the IRS’ description of social welfare organizations. 

On its website, the IRS says that a tax-exempt social welfare organization is "an organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare."

The website further explains: "The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office."

Chief operating officer Scott Frisch signed AARP’s most recent tax filing, confirming that "AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization empowering people to choose how they live as they age."

Featured Fact-check

AARP has a policy "against endorsing — or giving the appearance of endorsing — political parties, government officials or candidates for office," Young said. (The full policy can be found here.) 

He also said much of AARP’s leadership doesn’t donate to political candidates or campaigns. 

"Most of our board doesn’t give to candidates or campaigns," Young said. "Our CEO doesn’t give to candidates or campaigns. And most of our executive team does not give. Rank-and-file employees have the right to give, of course, but they don’t direct the organization or its policies." 

PolitiFact used Federal Election Commission data to confirm that the majority of AARP board members and the majority of AARP executive team members haven’t made recent political campaign contributions.

Individual donors associated with AARP have donated primarily to Democratic candidates in most election cycles including 2016, 2018 and 2020, according to an Open Secrets campaign contribution database

But when surveyed, about a third of AARP members report that their political leanings are conservative, a third report their leanings are liberal and a third consider themselves independent or in between, according to Young. 

So what does AARP do with the money it receives from donations or from its $16 per year membership fee?

The AARP lobbies for policies such as protecting Medicare, fighting high drug prices, protecting Social Security, combating fraud targeted at older people and addressing senior poverty. 

Our ruling

A Facebook post asks, "Are you aware that a portion of everything you pay A.A.R.P Goes directly to the Democratic Party." 

AARP is a tax-exempt social welfare nonprofit that is not permitted to participate in political campaigns. People who work for AARP can make individual political contributions, but those donations do not come from the organization as a whole.

We rate this post False.

 

Our Sources

Lead Stories, "Fact Check: A Portion Of What You Pay A.A.R.P. Does NOT Go Directly To The Democratic Party," Aug. 18, 2020

Snopes.com, "Does AARP Support the Democratic Party?" Aug. 19, 2020

USA Today, "Fact check: AARP maintains nonpartisan stance, makes no political donations," Aug. 29, 2020

Email interview with AARP spokesperson Jason Young, Aug. 16, 2020

IRS, "Social Welfare Organizations," accessed Sept. 17, 2020

AARP, "AARP’s Policy on Political or Partisan Activity," Sept. 14, 2016

AARP, "How Much Does AARP Membership Cost?" accessed Sept. 17, 2016

OpenSecrets.org, "AARP Summary," accessed Sept. 17, 2020

OpenSecrets.org, "AARP Totals," accessed Sept. 17, 2020

Federal Election Commission Database, "Individual contributions," accessed Sept. 17, 2020

 

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No, AARP isn’t sending money to the Democratic Party

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