Obama’s ‘Non-Profit’ Sells Political Access

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


Last weekend, the New York Times revealed that President Obama’s campaign apparatus, Organizing for Action (OFA), has reinvented itself as a 501c 4 tax-exempt non-profit advocacy group offering access to the president in return for a large donation. “Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House,” reports the Times.

Furthermore, the OFA’s reincarnation as an IRS-identified social welfare group is nothing less than a cynical attempt to violate the spirit of federal election laws. As the Times notes, OFA’s new status means that “it is not bound by federal contribution limits, laws that bar White House officials from soliciting contributions, or the stringent reporting requirements for campaigns. In their place, the new group will self-regulate.” That self-regulation will ostensibly include releasing the names of the group’s largest donors “every few months,” as a well as a promise not to have administration officials involved in fund-raising — even though those officials may appear at some events.

“The Obama team’s brazen attempt to convert the assets of its political campaign into assets to promote the President’s political agenda and the electoral fortunes of his Democratic allies is unprecedented in American political history,” writes Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy. Leahy also contends Obama and OFA are “betting that they’ve cleverly discovered a loophole, one that Republicans will fail to challenge legally.” Robert K. Kelner, a Republican election lawyer agrees, noting that this unprecedented arrangement “presents a rather simple loophole in the otherwise incredibly complex web of government ethics regulations that are intended to insulate government officials from outside influence.”

On Monday, in a rare attempt by the White House press corps to ask challenging questions, Press Secretary Jay Carney was challenged to explain what was going on. As this video reveals Carney did nothing more than read talking points from a prepared statement. “Administration officials routinely interact with outside advocacy organizations, and this has been true in prior administrations, and it is true in this one,” Carney insisted. He further insisted the president was prepared to do several things “to eliminate the corrosive influence of money in Washington.”

Yet Carney was pressed further by Fox News’ Ed Henry. “You’re not denying the point that was reported by the New York Times, that even though (Obama) is for all those reforms, that if you give $500,000 or more to this group, you get access to the president,” he said. “The president is engaged in an effort to pass items on his agenda, and outside organizations that support that agenda…administration officials can meet with them, including the president,” Carney responded. “But the fact of the matter is this is an independent organization supporting an agenda.”

In other words, the answer is yes.

As for the agenda itself, OFA’s executive director, and Jon Carson illuminated the opening salvo of causes to prospective donors in a conference call last Wednesday, according to those involved. “There are wins we can have on guns and immigration,” he contended. “We have to change the conventional wisdom on those issues.”

The effort to change the conventional wisdom is made far easier by a state-of-the-art technological infrastructure with access to the president’s 2 million volunteers, 17 million e-mail subscribers, 22 million Twitter followers, and virtually every registered voter in the country. That technology allows OFA to deliver millions of messages in several different formats, including Facebook, Twitter, email and texts. It has already been used to pump up support for the president’s State of the Union speech, and his gun-control agenda.

OFA was launched on January 18. At the time, the president sent out an email with the subject line “Say you’re in,” to his supporters. He promised them OFA would constitute “an unparalleled force in American politics…turn our shared values into legislative action—and it’ll empower the next generation of leaders in our movement.”

OFA’s roster includes 2012 Obama campaign manager Jim Messina as Chairman of the Board, and Obama advisor David Axelrod as a consultant. Other members of the group, based in Washington and Chicago, include 2008 Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, and other longtime supporters, such as Robert Gibbs, Stephanie Cutter, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Erik Smith, Julianna Smoot, and technology entrepreneur and top campaign fundraiser Frank White.

To reiterate, presidential access requires $500,000 or more, which the group anticipates will fund at least half of its anticipated budget, expected to total $50 million. Yet in March, when OFA holds a “founders summit” at a hotel near the White House, donors willing to pony up $50,000 will be granted access to Jim Messina and Jon Carson.

President Obama’s willingness to make himself accessible to this organization and its high-rolling donors has come under criticism. “It just smells,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to holding elected officials accountable to the public. “The president is setting a very bad model setting up this organization.” At MSNBC, even the reflexively liberal Chuck Todd was incredulous. “This just looks bad. It looks like the White House is selling access,” he contended. “The definition of how you define selling access. If you believe money has a stranglehold over the entire political system, this is ceding the moral high ground. And the President always has, from the moment he first announced his presidential bid in Springfield, six years ago, he stressed the need to curb the influence of special interests in Washington.”

One needn’t go back six years. In 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of rescinding government-imposed restrictions on free speech, President Obama railed against the decision. “With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” he said. “It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies, and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

Thus, the hypocrisy is breathtaking. And it is further amplified by the president’s effort to characterize OFA as an organization powered by “grass roots activists.” Yet according to Politico, OFA has “closely affiliated itself with insider liberal organizations funded by mega-donors like George Soros and corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Citi and Duke Energy,” as well as “the same rich donors who backed Obama’s campaigns, asking for help from Democratic donors and bundlers in town for the Inauguration at a closed-door corporate-sponsored confab that featured Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker.”

None of this should surprise anyone. Barack Obama has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he is willing to advance his agenda by any means necessary, even if he is revealed as an overt liar and unbridled hypocrite in the process. During his inaugural address, Obama claimed, “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.” On the other hand, access to the president is reserved for those with $500,000 or more.

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  • kafir4life

    They don't call him Stinky (bo) for nothing, that's for sure. What an abomination that thing is. After his "one-on-one" with Tiger Woods, does anybody wonder what was meant by Stinky's "amazing touch"? His experience on the down low with the boyz from the hood is good experience for a "president" with no apparent skills for…..well, anything. To paraphrase Bill Maher regarding Herman Cain's recent addition to Fox News, Stinky only played golf with Tiger for the blond white women. Think Moochabella knows?

  • sononthe_beach

    It should have been obvious to everyone that the O' was a huckster from the first day that he was seen making a speech. He is a political flim-flam man whose decisions are made in accordance with his political instincts. He doesn't need to worry about public perceptions, because the press will back him no matter what he does. For questions about every lie, distortion, corruption, and hypocrisy that he commits, he and his acolytes simply dig into their inexhaustible warehouse of spin and shovel it out into the public arena. It is no different than what a manure spreader does for a cow pasture.

    • JayB

      I hate to say this because i totally agree with you – but he is only doing what anyone with a will to power would do. Especially one with a radical background and a believer in Marxist political philosophy.

      However, much of Obama's success can be directly attributed to the failures of Bush 2 and the current group of RINOs in charge of the GOP. So who is more to blame for the situation we find ourselves in right now with exploding debt, record gas and food prices, record high unemployment, etc.?

      I guess my point is – Obama is only doing what he is supposed to do and what we knew he would do all along…but isn't it the utter and complete failure and impotence of the other party that is really to blame for the current state of affairs?

      The only way this ever gets turned around and starts getting better is if people are more critical and absolutely enraged with the current state of the GOP – it needs to be totally rebuilt from top to bottom. Otherwise, I see no other solution if we live in a 2-party system!

  • Demetrius M

    Yes, the president is putting his Sturmabteilung to good use. Heil Obama!

  • cxt

    This is exactly the kind of thing that would be hammered on—IF the media was doing its job.

    The genius of Obama is that he has figured out that the media–by and large—is in the tank for him. He knows he can do pretty much whatever he wants and the mainstream media will cover for him.

    This kind of rank hypocrocy (sp) would mean political doom for anyone else–the more so since it's not the first time he has done such things.

    It's the "12th man" that allows such things to happen.

  • Brujo Blanco

    If I recall correctly Clinton was selling sleep overs in the White House. This was.an illegal act for which he did not answer. Obama a Democrat will likely not have to answer.for illegal or unethical conduct.

  • LibertarianToo

    Today's missive from OFA asked recipients to "Share Your Sequester Story" about how those wascawy wepubwicans are going to destroy your life if they allow spending cuts to go through. -In another words, they are soliciting lies, since people on the email list can't yet know anything that will happen as a result of sequestration.

    You'd think people on Team Obama would be able to come up with their own lies. But maybe they've run out.

  • JacksonPearson

    Hmm, the terms "high crimes and misdemeanors" comes to mind!
    The white house is a product of We The People, and NOT him Barack Hussein Obama II, aka Barry Soetoro. Other than his regular pay, he hasn't been granted enumerated powers to put a FOR SALE sign up PERIOD

  • Paul Neville

    This is a violation of the Hatch act. You cannot use the premises of the White House as a tool to gather political contributions. This is worse than selling the Lincoln bedroom. Back when I was a democrat I contributed $5000.00 during the first Clinton campaign and we were supposed to meet Clinton at some function. It got cancelled. They promised they would make it up to us. After he was elected we were all invited to a special White House function. It was held outside on the lawn and I remember Al Gore saying they don't like us doing this. His caution was later thrown to the winds as he raised money from his federal office

  • Andy Lewis

    People actually pay for access to this jag? I wouldn't pay two chits much less two cents for the privilege.

  • FPF

    Only the wealthy left including their unholy alliance are welcome to see BHBengaziO from now on. A moral good leader will lead a country into prosperity, a immoral bad leader(s) such as this WH will OAR the US into abyss.