Organizing for Action Chairman Jim Messina. (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- Leaders of Organizing for Action, President Obama's new nonprofit advocacy group, are courting his top campaign bundlers to be part of a high-dollar fundraising network that will help finance the work of the nascent organization.
During a swing through the Bay Area and Los Angeles this week, OFA Chairman Jim Messina and Executive Director Jon Carson met with members of the Obama campaign's National Finance Committee and told them there will be a similar structure in place to support the work of the nonprofit group, which is set up as a 501(c)4 social welfare organization. They were accompanied by Rufus Gifford, who served as finance director for Obama's reelection bid.
OFA officials declined to comment on the record, but confirmed that the group would have a finance committee similar to that of the campaign.
Bundlers will probably be asked to raised $500,000 to be part of the committee. Such top fundraisers will get perks in return. One reward that was floated as a possibility was an invitation to quarterly meetings with Obama.
Such proximity to the president is nothing new for those being courted, who include the most prolific fundraisers for Obama's political campaigns.
"People are not doing this to get their third or sixth photo with the president," said one bundler who attended an OFA fundraising outreach session this week. "Everybody is in because they are in."
Messina and Carson told attendees that the group would disclose donors on a quarterly basis, although the organization is not required to do so under law. Exact contributions will not be listed; rather, donors will be listed under different ranges of contributions.
The donor meetings, which included a breakfast Wednesday at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, marked the first fundraising trip by OFA officials as they gear up the new organization. Messina also sent an email to Obama supporters after the president's State of the Union speech Tuesday night, asking for contributions of $5 and up for the nonprofit.
The reception was largely positive among the big donors and bundlers, several of whom expressed satisfaction that there was a plan in place to press Obama's agenda. There is strong support for gun control measures, in particular.
"The reaction is, 'Great, we were wondering what we do next,' " said one.
The fundraising trip comes as OFA is increasingly taking form as the home for Obama's operations outside of the White House. As of this week, the Twitter accounts of both Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are listed as being run by "Organizing for Action staff."
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