This Participant Agreement (“Agreement”), made between Congressional Communities and you (“Participant”), governs your relationship with Congressional Communities when organizing within your designated congressional community (“Community”) for purposes of nonpartisan civic engagement. This Agreement applies to all Participants within the Community, including Champions and other roles, as defined on the congressionalcommunities.org website or as they evolve or are created to advance the goals of Congressional Communities.
1. Lobbying and Electioneering Activities
1. What is Lobbying?
Lobbying activities include any direct efforts to propose, support, or oppose legislation through uninvited contacts with legislators, their staffs, or government officials who may participate in formulation of the legislation, and all grassroots efforts to encourage others to contact legislators, their staffs, or any other government official who may participate in formulation of the legislation.
Electioneering activities include any direct or indirect efforts to participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign for or against any candidate for public office. These activities include, but are not limited to, making verbal or written statements of endorsement or opposition with respect to, campaigning on behalf of, or contributing to the campaign fund of a candidate.
3. Limitations on Lobbying and Electioneering Activities
Participants may engage in lobbying and electioneering activities solely on a personal basis. Participants may, along with other Participants they meet through Congressional Communities, engage in lobbying and electioneering activities on a personal basis together. However, Participants may not engage in lobbying or electioneering activities while organized under their Community or under the Congressional Communities name.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, Congressional Communities is extremely limited by law from engaging in lobbying or electioneering efforts. To avoid jeopardizing its non-profit status, Congressional Communities has adopted a policy that it will not encourage or condone Participants or collective Communities to lobby or electioneer under the Congressional Communities name.
4. Allowed General Advocacy Activities
While Congressional Communities expressly prohibits Participants from engaging in lobbying and electioneering activities under the Congressional Communities name, Congressional Communities allows and encourages Participants to engage in general advocacy activities. For the purposes of illustration only and not intended to be limiting in any way, Congressional Communities supports general advocacy activities such as:
bringing constituents together, regardless of viewpoint, for purposes of fostering discussion and communication among Community Participants and their elected representatives;
voter registration drives;
citizen and voter engagement initiatives that do not involve contacting a legislator to vote a certain way for a specific piece of legislation; and,
in general, any efforts Congress undertakes to increase communication with constituents.
5. Participant Acknowledgments
Participant acknowledges that:
Participant understands the difference between lobbying, electioneering, and general advocacy.
Participant will not engage in lobbying or electioneering while organized under their Community or under the Congressional Communities name.
Congressional Communities respects Participant’s right to individually lobby or electioneer on a personal basis.
If Participant wishes to engage in organized lobbying or electioneering, Participant may choose to associate with an existing organization that may engage in lobbying or electioneering activities or form their own organization, such as a 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), or 501(c)(6) organization, that might be able to freely engage in lobbying or electioneering activities. Participant agrees that they will seek separate legal counsel, if necessary, to advise on organization formation.
2. Waiver of Liability
Notwithstanding the limitation of liability in the Terms and Conditions, Congressional Communities expressly disclaims all liability for any Participant-organized assemblies, events, and gatherings (“Events”). While Congressional Communities may aggregate or list any Events on its website for the convenience of a Community’s Participants, Congressional Communities does not personally organize or oversee any Event. All Participants agree to discharge and hold Congressional Communities harmless for any claims arising out of or relating to any Event. Participant understands and acknowledges that this waiver discharges Congressional Communities from any liability with respect to any claim for bodily injury, personal injury, illness, death, or property damage that may result from Participant’s involvement in an Event. Participants who organize Events are responsible for obtaining any requirements for hosting onsite or virtual Events themselves, including without limitation, any applicable insurance policies, administration or appearance fees, liability waivers, photography releases, licenses, and permits. Participant acknowledges that such Events might necessitate the Participant to form their own legal entity and agrees to seek separate legal counsel, if necessary, to advise on organization formation.
3. Participant Code of Conduct
Congressional Communities follows the below guiding principles for respectful, inclusive, acceptable behavior:
Participants are respectful to each other and their guests.
Participants let speakers finish.
Participants aim to be brief.
Participants avoid profanity.
Participants do not engage in personal attacks or ad hominem arguments.
Participants focus their efforts and discussion on issues and Congress.
Participants welcome and encourage opposing viewpoints and do their best (1) to present issues of public importance and (2) to do so in a manner that is honest, equitable, and balanced.
Though welcome to belong to political parties, Participants don’t identify by party.
During election season, when inviting candidates to Community events, Participants organizing Events also invite candidates from opposing parties – especially the major parties.
Participants are expected to abide by professional behavior that shows respect and courtesy to all other Participants as well as non-Participants; online or in-person. To foster an open, positive, and welcoming atmosphere, unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated by Congressional Communities.
Unacceptable behavior includes, but is not limited to:
verbal or physical harassment, whether in-person, online, or by other means
causing someone to fear for their safety, such as through stalking, following, or intimidation
violent threats or language directed against another person
the display of sexual or violent images
unwelcome sexual attention
nonconsensual or unwelcome physical contact
sustained disruption of talks, events, or communications
incitement to violence, suicide, or self-harm
publication of private communication without consent
The above are guidelines for Participant behavior and Community culture; each Community is expected to be its own self-governing unit. Except as provided below, the Code of Conduct will be enforced for each Community by its respective Community Champions, who may enforce the Code of Conduct by verbal or written warning, among other reasonable sanctions for unacceptable behavior.
Congressional Communities reserves the right to investigate escalations of Code of Conduct violations on a discretionary basis and to enforce the Code of Conduct against violators. Enforcement may include, but is not limited to, immediate revocation of the account of a Participant, or termination of access to the website for a Participant.