- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Voicing a Blunt objection: Senator questions Obama campaign-turned-nonprofit
A leading Republican senator Sunday questioned the decision by President Obama to transform his 2012 campaign organization into a full-time advocacy group.
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," suggested the creation of "Organizing for Action" will exacerbate an already fractious atmosphere in Washington.
"I was surprised this week to see him transition his campaign committee into an ongoing campaign style effort to have an impact on the Washington debate," Mr. Blunt said. "It doesn't seem to me in the first term that worked out very well."
The creation of the tax-exempt 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, announced Friday, is designed to leverage the assets of the president's re-election campaign and counter a similar group set up by top Republican strategist Karl Rove.
Organizing for Action, a play on the initials of the Obama for America campaign, will be headed by Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina.
It is structured similarly to Crossroads GPS, a spinoff of the super PAC fundraising machine that Mr. Rove, former President George W. Bush's top political adviser, created three years ago.
In launching the new group, Mr. Obama sent an email to supporters announcing it with the subject line: "Say you're in."
"Following the footsteps of the campaign you built, Organizing for Action will be an unparalleled force in American politics," he wrote. "It will work to turn our shared values into legislative action -- and it'll empower the next generation of leaders in our movement."
The email linked to a video of first lady Michelle Obama thanking supporters for the work to get Mr. Obama elected and asking them to get involved in the next phase of "our movement for change." It did not include a request for a donation, only a button to click to provide a name, email and ZIP code.
Mr. Obama is the first president to continue fundraising for his campaign after the election was over -- at least since the late 1970s, when the newly established Federal Election Commission started keeping records of such things.
Since Election Day, Obama for America has produced at least two Web videos showcasing the president's record and including "donate" buttons users can click.
Although most of the staffers have gone on to other jobs, the campaign still holds onto one of its most valuable assets -- lists of millions of emails of supporters and volunteers, which the new organization can use to help mobilize grass-roots support for the president's agenda.
As a 501(c)4 organization, the transformed Obama campaign will operate independently of Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC that tried to compete with Republican-aligned groups that collected millions of dollars in unlimited contributions to support Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign for president.
Government watchdog groups were already lamenting the president's decision to accept unlimited corporate donations to fund his inauguration celebration. The creation of Mr. Messina's new tax-exempt group, combined with what critics call Mr. Obama's previous flip-flops on limiting special interest influence in Washington, has left many watchdogs wary.
"The creation of a nonprofit group with close ties to the president after he has made a pitch to corporations for funds could raise some eyebrows on how donations from corporations might influence federal policy," said Public Citizen's Lisa Gilbert. "It's a red flag when it comes to influence."
Charles Spies, a Republican lawyer who ran the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, told the liberal Mother Jones magazine that while the president's new political action group may be legal, it's also "breathtakingly hypocritical."
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- GOP senators want IG probe of Sebelius' 'Obamacare' fundraising
- Teaming up with Christie, Obama says Jersey shore 'back in business'
- No Moore: Obama flubs name of Oklahoma city devastated by tornado, calls it 'Monroe'
- Obama to Okla. tornado victims: 'We have got your back'
- Amid his own challenges, Obama calls on Navy grads to hold themselves accountable
Latest Blog Entries
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- ICT trade mission to Azerbaijan successfully completed
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- JACOBS: Prepare for a fight on driverless vehicles
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow