America's independent, non-partisan advocate for overburdened taxpayers.

NTU Statement of Ethics

 

Members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), and indeed all taxpayers, are entitled to know how NTU operates. Like our educational affiliate (the National Taxpayers Union Foundation [NTUF]), NTU adheres to a strong set of unwavering ethical and policy principles.

1. Independence. NTU relies on small gifts from individuals for the vast bulk of our financial support.

a. Strictly Limited Funding from Corporations. Because substantial reliance on corporate support can raise questions about independence, NTU strictly limits the role of corporate dollars in our overall fundraising.

 

  • NTU obtains most of our support from non-corporate sources. In 2004, non-corporate donations comprised over 80 percent of funding for NTU (for NTUF, the 2004 figure was 97 percent). No advertising is accepted for any NTU publication.
  • Although powerful and deep-pocketed corporations may offer (and have offered) large financial contributions on issues ranging from energy policy to Government-Sponsored Enterprise reform to entitlement spending, NTU has rejected such attempts to enlist us in causes that do not serve taxpayers. And we always will.
  • NTU accepts the fact that corporations and entities that have supported us in the past may subsequently disagree with our position on a future matter and may cease their support. This has happened on a great number of occasions and no doubt will again.

b. No Funding from Labor Unions. While a number of policy and advocacy groups on the political left in America obtain a substantial portion of their budgets from labor unions (including government employee unions with very specific public policy objectives), NTU has not requested and does not receive funding from these organizations.

c. No Funding from Government. As a matter of principle, NTU does not seek and would never accept any funding from government at any level (federal, state, or local).

d. Small Donations Comprise the Cornerstone of our Support. In 2004, the average gift to NTU from all sources was $26.

2. Policy Integrity.

a. Policy Is Always First. NTU makes decisions on whether and how to weigh in on a public policy question before seeking funding from any individual, foundation, or corporation. We never put the proverbial cart before the horse on policy.

b. No Employee Compensation from Outsiders Seeking Influence. No NTU employee has ever received outside personal compensation from a lobbyist, corporation, or other entity seeking to sway NTU's policy agenda.

3. Coalition Independence.

a. When NTU engages in collaborative projects, we often work with groups that can be characterized as conservative or free-market. That said, we frequently ally ourselves with organizations that focus on the environment, international issues, or corporate welfare (none of these groups would accurately be described as "conservative"). Examples of issues where we cross traditional ideological lines in our coalition work include:

  • Taxpayer subsidies of sports stadiums;
  • Pork-barrel projects that waste taxpayer dollars and harm the environment;
  • Ending the gerrymandering of Congressional districts;
  • Government employee whistleblower rights;
  • Corporate welfare;
  • Privacy protection;
  • Wasteful military spending projects;
  • Government insurance programs;
  • Open government;
  • Reform of Congressional pay and perks; and
  • Foreign aid.

4. Non-Partisanship.

a. Advocacy and Research for Taxpayers, Not Political Parties. NTU works on behalf of taxpayers, not parties.
  • NTU will support efforts to limit government whether they are initiated by Democrats (we long supported Representative Charles Stenholm's (D-TX) and Senator Paul Simon's (D-IL) efforts on behalf of a Balanced Budget Amendment) or Republicans (we are strong supporters of the Family Budget Protection Act sponsored by Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)).
  • Similarly, we will vigorously lobby against initiatives to expand government whether sponsored by Democrats (President Clinton's 1994 health care legislation and his 1994 crime bill, for instance) or Republicans (e.g., Congressional Republicans' 2003 Medicare prescription drug legislation, Congress's 2002 farm bill, and President Bush's No Child Left Behind legislation).
  • When elected leaders are abusing the public's money, we will speak out and criticize them. Thus, NTU strongly condemned the Bush Administration's 2004 ad campaign for the Medicare prescription drug legislation which had been signed into law by the President two months prior. And we criticized the Clinton Administration for using public dollars for similar self-promoting advertising.
b. NTU's Rating. Many Senators and Representatives who score poorly in NTU's Rating of Congress try to turn the public's attention away from their voting records by claiming that the study is somehow partisan or biased. It is neither.
  • The most common accusation is that NTU's Rating is tilted against Democrats, but during the many decades of this study, in at least ten instances Democrats have achieved the top score in one body or another. A vote against the Republican leadership's Medicare prescription drug bill was the most heavily-weighted vote in our 2003 Rating.
  • Unlike the practice of many other advocacy groups, NTU does not "cherry-pick" votes for inclusion in our voting study. We include every single vote on taxes, spending, and key regulatory matters. The votes are weighted according to importance. A Member's score is then just a matter of tallying up whether they voted to support bigger or smaller government.
c. Candidate Endorsements. NTU does not endorse candidates for public office, but our Political Action Committee, the National Taxpayers Union Campaign Fund (NTUCF), has done so since 1994. Although NTUCF usually will make some small campaign expenditures (mostly all for travel to announce our endorsement), NTUCF has a policy of not writing checks to candidates. While NTUCF has endorsed more Republicans than Democrats, in every election cycle the PAC has endorsed Democrats, and has frequently endorsed independent and third party candidates. This philosophy of recommending the best candidate for taxpayers, regardless of affiliation, is reinforced by NTUCF's bylaws requiring endorsement decisions to be made by a unanimous vote of its Board of Directors, which consists of two Republicans, one Democrat, and two Independents. 

5. Respect for Privacy. NTU has long been involved in the fight for taxpayer privacy. Unless specifically requested by the donor otherwise, gifts to NTU are kept private and the names of specific individuals or organizations are not revealed to the public. Throughout the history of NTU, we have considered ourselves duty-bound to honor the confidentiality of contributors, some of whom have expressed fears of official or political retaliation for supporting causes such as reforming the IRS and curtailing pork-barrel spending projects.

6. Financial Integrity. While we are not required to do so, NTU undergoes an annual audit by an independent accredited public accounting firm to ensure we have not made any mistakes or violated legal or accounting ethics in conducting our work. Copies of these audited financial statements are available to the public upon request. By law, NTU also annually files IRS Form 990, which is available on our website.