The Gop's Bad News For Main Street

EFFORTS ON CAPITOL HILL TO curb political activities of nonprofit groups may mean more red tape for their suppliers. A GOP bill would ban lobbying by some nonprofits that receive federal grants. Chief target: liberal advocacy outfits such as the American Association of Retired Persons. Yet the measure also would bar nonprofits from spending grant funds on vendors who use more than 15% of their expenses on "political advocacy."

That could mean the local grocer who supplies a Head Start program or the big computer company peddling machines to a college. To prove they're eligible to do business with a nonprofit, it's charged these vendors might have to keep track of their spending on loads of items--from lawsuits against government agencies to appearances before local zoning boards.

But sponsor Representative Ernest Istook Jr. (R-Okla.) dismisses the objections as alarmist. The controversial legislation, an amendment to an appropriations bill, is pending before a House-Senate conference committee.

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