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Obama Relaunches Campaign as Grass-Roots Advocacy

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 5 | President Barack Obama is turning to the grass-roots supporters who helped re-elect him to now help carry out his legislative agenda, announcing Friday a new advocacy group dubbed Organizing for Action.

The group will be configured as a 501(c)(4) social welfare group and accept unrestricted corporate funding, the Associated Press has reported, raising questions about transparency on the heels of an election that saw record sums in undisclosed campaign spending.

Such tax-exempt organizations are not required to publicly report their contributors, and during the recent elections, Obama and congressional Democrats assailed the undisclosed “dark money” that helped politically active nonprofits spend hundreds of millions on campaign ads. Organizing for Action will reportedly take no money from lobbyists or political action committees.

Democratic organizers are expected to discuss Organizing for Action’s future at a Sunday meeting in Washington, D.C.

A familiar cast of Obama campaign aides will be in charge. The group’s national chairman will be Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, and its executive director will be outgoing White House official Jon Carson, according to The Associated Press, while White House aide David Plouffe will leave to join the group’s board later this month. The AP initially reported that Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod would be a consultant to the group, but an Axelrod aide clarified on March 5 that Axelrod has no OFA role.

Obama introduced the group in an email to supporters and with an online video narrated by first lady Michelle Obama and featuring inspirational shots of volunteers and supporters making calls and waving signs at rallies.

“The relationships you’ve made, the tools you’ve built and the lessons you’ve learned have already begun to change our politics, and in the coming years they can change our country,” the first lady tells viewers.

The new group’s mission is to train and empower “the next generation of leaders,” she adds, and to support “the grass-roots organizing you want to do on the issues that matter most to your community and to our country.”

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