The nonprofit group run by former Obama aides had been accused of selling access to the White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — Reversing course amid criticism, a nonprofit group run by former advisers to President Barack Obama said Thursday it would not accept corporate donations and would disclose the specific amount of money it receives from donors after being accused of selling access to the White House.
Jim Messina, the chairman of Organizing for Action, wrote in an op-ed published Thursday by CNN.com that the group believes in being “open and transparent” and had decided not to accept corporate money, a move in keeping with Obama’s past campaign practices. Every donor who gives $250 or more will be disclosed on the group’s website with the exact amount on a quarterly basis, he said.
The close ties between the White House and Organizing for Action, a nonprofit that was formed from Obama’s 2012 campaign, have drawn questions about whether bundlers who raise $500,000 or more for OFA will get quarterly meetings with Obama. OFA and the White House have disputed those charges.
Open-government groups have said Obama has changed course since being critical of the role of money in politics during his first campaign and the start of his presidency, and they say the nonprofit provides new ways for corporations and individuals to influence the administration.
Messina wrote in the op-ed that while OFA “is a nonprofit social welfare organization that faces a lower disclosure threshold than a political campaign, we believe in being open and transparent.”
“That’s why every donor who gives $250 or more to this organization will be disclosed on the website with the exact amount they give on a quarterly basis,” he wrote.
Messina said the group would not accept contributions from corporations, federal lobbyists or foreign donors. Obama has rejected donations from those entities in the past, although the committee running his second inaugural accepted contributions from corporations and did not release specific donation amounts from its donors.
Corporations will still have an outlet to connect with the administration. Business Forward, a 3-year-old trade group that has organized meetings between businesses and Obama officials, has said it will ramp up its operations. The group is funded by corporate money and has received contributions from about 50 companies that pay $25,000 or $50,000 a year to be involved and participate in briefings between Obama administration officials and businesses.
OFA is led by Messina, who served as Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, and several former Obama campaign and White House aides sit on its board. Former White House senior adviser David Plouffe is expected to join the board soon.
The group has vowed to raise millions of dollars and harness Obama’s grassroots army behind the president’s second-term initiatives such as gun control and immigration reform. Messina said nearly 1 million people already have mobilized as part of the group, and it has held events in 80 congressional districts in support of curbing gun violence.
Messina said in the op-ed that “there has been some confusion” over OFA’s role, stressing that it is “an issue advocacy group, not an electoral one.”
“We’ll mobilize to support the president’s agenda, but we won’t do so on behalf of political candidates,” he said.
The group is holding a “founders’ summit” for donors next week at a Washington hotel that will include addresses by Messina, Plouffe and others, with briefings the next day on immigration, gun control and climate change.
More Related Stories
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- Greek yogurt, toxic waste hazard?
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Destroying the planet for record profits
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- The Maker kids are alright
- Portland's senseless war on fluoride
- Is Pittsburgh the next Portland?
- "Original Coca-Cola had a very small amount of cocaine"
- Justin Bieber will destroy you if you live-tweet his parties
- Corporations accused of wrongdoing win battle to keep identities secret
- Wall Street firm's "Golden Pitchbook" is totally sexist, full of lies
- Apple's biggest sin: Popularity
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- When America became a third-world country
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11