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The CWPT Starts New Preservation Lobby Group

Deborah Fitts

- (November 2007) WASHINGTON, D.C. - Seeking a new approach to hike its effectiveness, the Civil War Preservation Trust has created a lobbying arm - Americans for Battlefield Preservation (AFBP).

Unlike the Trust, the 501(c)(4) is not tax-deductible. But Trust spokesman Jim Campi said this gives the new group certain advantages, ranging from fund-raising at the national level to helping preservation candidates at the local level.

"For example," Campi said, "AFBP can conduct unlimited lobbying activity," which the Trust, following IRS guidelines, is not allowed to do. "This is extremely important, since federal and state matching funds are absolutely crucial to our land preservation successes. Obtaining such funds involves considerable lobbying as federal and state budgets get tighter."

The group will also work at the local level, Campi said, particularly in certain high-growth areas of Virginia, middle-Tennessee and Georgia that have a concentration of battlefields.

AFBP will identify candidates interested in preservation and offer them "behind-the-scenes technical support." Also, while the group will not donate to candidates directly, it will urge others to do so.

Campi noted that one reason the Trust pursued the new arm was because it finds itself increasingly working at the local level to prevent rezonings that favor development, and to encourage local officials to emphasize preservation and tourism in their planning documents.

He said that while donations to the new group are not tax-deductible, they will be "multiplied many times over by working to ensure continued sources of governmental matching funds and other support."

AFBP will operate in a "strictly non-partisan" fashion, and will seek to affect local land-use decisions which, if they go the wrong way, "can price CWPT out of the marketplace."

Campi added that the "vast majority" of donations would be spent "to encourage officials to support battlefield preservation and resist the temptations of developers to rezone hallowed ground."

The Trust first hatched a plan to create the 501(c)(4) a year and a half ago, according to Campi. Working out the legalities took a year. The Trust sent letters to its members in early September explaining the new entity.

Trust staffers will operate the new lobbying arm part-time, sharing office resources with the Trust and being paid from the AFBP budget. "The group is designed to be small and easy to manage," Campi said. He estimated costs at $50,000 to $60,000 a year. The group is guided by a small board of trustees.

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