Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Stay Classy, Mr. President

With President Obama safely reelected, the news media, unburdened from having to provide cover for the White House, is now free to actually cover the White House. Among the first to take that bold step is the New York Times.  They reported this past Friday that President Obama has transformed his reelection campaign into an advocacy network with the goal of raising $50 million, which would make it one of Washington D.C.'s largest lobbying operations.  But,
Unlike a presidential campaign, Organizing for Action has been set up as a tax-exempt “social welfare group.” That means 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.
According to the Times, the new campaign, called Organizing for Action, will sell access to the White House for those who can pay.  Next month OFA is holding a "founders summit" where donors paying $50,000 each will get to mingle with top Obama aides.  But those with deeper pockets get access to the President himself. The Times reports,
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. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships.
 And from shady, it starts to get sticky:
Many traditional advocacy organizations, including the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association, are set up as social welfare groups, or 501(c)(4)’s in tax parlance. But unlike those groups, Organizing for Action appears to be an extension of the administration, stocked with alumni of Mr. Obama’s White House and campaign teams and devoted solely to the president’s second-term agenda. 
 Change we can believe in?

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