Since Election Day, the president’s Obama for America organization has produced at least two web videos showcasing the president’s record and including “donate” buttons supporters can click to give money.
In one fundraising pitch, Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said donors would be able to participate in an “Obama Legacy Conference” during inauguration weekend to consider how to use the $5.4 million Obama for America still has in the bank. There are restrictions on the inauguration committee using money raised during the campaign.
Making it permanent
On Friday, news broke that Mr. Messina planned to turn the campaign into a continuing nonprofit activist organization that would not have to disclose its future donors — raising the possibility of the formation of a Democratic counterpart to Crossroads GPS, a spin-off of the super PAC fundraising machine ex-Bush aide Karl Rove founded.
Although Mr. Obama has not said a word about the future of his campaign apparatus — with its millions of emails and reams of data on supporters — Vice President Joseph R. Biden said last week said he could rely on the former campaign machinery to help generate public support for the administration’s new package of gun violence proposals.
The creation of 501(c)4 organization follows earlier reversals by Mr. Obama on super PACs, organizations that sprung up after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that opened the opened the door to outside groups collecting unlimited corporate donations.
Despite denouncing the Supreme Court decision and even chiding the high court’s judges over it during a State of the Union address, Mr. Obama decided gave behind-the-scenes approval to several top aides to set up super PACS supporting him in 2012.
The Sunlight Foundation also suggested that Mr. Obama’s decision to accept corporate and union cash could end up helping to fund his future presidential library. Several recent presidential inaugural committees have ended up with surpluses, and there are no rules for how the excess money can be spent.
President Clinton’s inaugural committee gave between $1 million and $5 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation for his presidential library, Sunlight officials said. The George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes a museum, think tank and library set to open in April, has raised more than $400 million but has not disclosed its funders.
But recent reports suggest there might not be an inauguration committee surplus. Even though Mr. Obama is known as one of the best political fundraisers in history, he seems to have struggled to convince donors to pony up for the inauguration.
With just days to go, several media outlets reported that as of last week, the committee was still millions short of its goal of raising $40 million to $50 million and repeating its take of $53 million in 2009.
The committee won’t say how much it hopes to raise this year, although a source close to the operation said the goal is between $40 and $50 million — slightly down the first inauguration when the committee raised all of its funds from individual donors and banned corporate cash. This year’s event will feature significantly smaller crowds and only two official inaugural balls — down from 10 in 2008.
Even though he’s thrown the door open to unlimited donations, Mr. Obama only has 13 corporate donors for his inaugural, according to a donor list of more than 1,000 inauguration “benefactors” posted on the inaugural website as of Saturday morning.View Entire Story
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Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at email@example.com.
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