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The organization behind President Barack Obama’s two successful
election campaigns will become a nonprofit, using its massive database
of supporters to advocate for the president’s agenda.
Messina, head of what was once called Obama for America, wrote in an
email to supporters that the organization will transform into a
nonprofit called Organizing for Action (OFA). It will be a 501(c)(4),
meaning it is tax exempt as long as it does not directly involve itself
in election activities. OFA will immediately begin advocating for the
president’s second-term agenda, with issues such as gun control and
immigration set to be discussed.
“If we can take the enthusiasm
and passion that people showed throughout the campaign and channel it
into the work ahead of us, we will be unstoppable,” said Messina, who
will be OFA’s national chairman, in the email to supporters.
Carson, director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House,
will leave the administration to become OFA’s executive director,
according to a report by The Associated Press. The organization’s board
of directors will include several former White House and campaign aides,
including former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, and top
campaign officials Stephanie Cutter, Jennifer O’Malley-Dillon and
Supporters of the organization hope that this
incarnation of Obama for America will see more use than the post-2008
election version. The organization renamed itself Organizing for America
when Obama first took office, but remained a part of the Democratic
National Committee (DNC). The organization did play a big role in the
fight to pass what would become the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According
to an article dated Oct. 20, 2009 on The Huffington Post,
OFA exceeded its goal of 100,000 calls to lawmakers to encourage them
to support health care reform that day, eventually reaching 300,000
Yet aside from that effort, the administration made
little use of OFA’s extensive database of supporters. For instance, OFA
remained largely silent in 2010 during the debate over whether Bush-era
tax cuts for the wealthy should be extended; many on the left believed
rates on the wealthy should return to Clinton-era levels. All of the
rates were eventually extended for another two years. Rates did return
to those levels for those making more than $400,000 following the recent
fiscal cliff deal.
Messina and the rest of OFA believe things
will be different this time around, as he pledged the organization would
be driven by supporters, and would follow the Obama campaign’s
principles of “respect, empower, and include.” Since the organization
will be a nonprofit, it will no longer be associated with the DNC.
continue to support the President in creating jobs and growing the
economy from the middle out, and in fighting for issues like immigration
reform, climate change, balanced deficit reduction, and reducing gun
violence,” said Messina.
The switch to a 501(c)(4) organization
puts OFA in the same category as conservative organizations such as
Republican operative Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. The President and
Democrats have routinely criticized those organizations for refusing to
disclose its donors. In the announcement, it was revealed that OFA will
accept financial contributions from individuals and corporations, but
will refuse donations from lobbyists or political action committees
A call to OFA to find out whether they plan to release
the names of their highest contributing donors was not immediately
Since the election ended in November, the OFA campaign
list has been used to rally supporters around the president’s original
“fiscal cliff” plan, which called for increases in tax rates for the
wealthiest Americans, and a “balanced” deficit reduction plan that
included a mix of spending cuts and revenue raisers. The campaign
included a Twitter campaign to pressure lawmakers to extend Bush-era tax
cuts on individuals and families making $250,000 or less, using the
hashtag #My2k to inform lawmakers why the tax cut was important to them.
OFA was first created for the presidential election 2008, it was a
groundbreaking development in grassroots organizing. It collected
information from its many backers and, for the first time, linked
supporters together through the Internet. It helped produce record
turnouts for the election, using the data they collected to identify new
voters and ensure they showed up on Election Day.