As President Barack Obama prepares to meet with donors to his advocacy group Organizing for Action, he continues to field criticism over the organization from both watchdogs and Republican operatives.
Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center wrote Obama Wednesday charging his involvement with Organizing for Action “raises serious questions about whether you are complying with the Ethics in Government Act ban on the solicitation of gifts by executive branch officials, including the President.”
OFA’s organizers have defended its operations and imposed several voluntary restrictions on the nonprofit, which as a tax-exempt social-welfare organization operates outside the disclosure rules. OFA will not take corporate or foreign donations and will report donors of $250 or more every quarter. White House spokesman Jay Carney recently compared the group to the national Democratic Party committees.
But Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar, who has called on Obama to shut down the group, said that the voluntary disclosure “is not enough.” Edgar noted the irony that his group begins a two-day conference at the National Press Club Wednesday on “The Lessons of Watergate,” on the same day that Obama is scheduled to meet with $50,000 OFA donors “a few blocks away.”
“Whether it’s Nixon selling ambassador posts, Clinton selling a night in the Lincoln Bedroom, or Bush selling black-tie dinners at the White House, selling access to the presidency is just plain wrong and courts corruption,” Edgar said in a statement. “President Obama should put an end to this unsavory practice, not perpetuate it.”
Also today, the conservative super PAC American Crossroads, which is affiliated with a politically active nonprofit subject to the same tax rules as OFA, released a second video critical of OFA, dubbed “Appropriate,” which lampoons Carney’s characterization of OFA’s activities.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.