The New Pack of PACs

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Barack Obama, Mona Sutphen, Jim Messina, Phil Schiliro

Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 campaign manager and the Organizing for Action national chairman, listens as President Barack Obama makes a statement to reporters after meeting at the White House, Nov. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Obama’s Organizing for Action

President Obama doesn’t have to worry about financing presidential campaigns anymore, but he’s still got a lot of expensive items on his ‘To Do’ list. So he and his team built a new public policy advocacy group, Organizing for Action (OFA), which, according to its website, “will support the legislative agenda we voted on, train the next generation of grassroots organizers and leaders, and organize around local issues in our communities.”

Like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, Organizing for Action is not technically a super PAC and is registered as a nonprofit under section 501(c)4 of the tax code. 501(c)4s are like super PACs, except that their mission is defined as “social welfare:” They need to steer clear of electoral politics and campaigns, and they don’t have to reveal their donors — something for which conservative organizations came under heavy criticism during the 2012 campaign.

According to the OFA site, the group “will not directly lobby elected officials on behalf of the policies it supports, nor will it hire lobbyists to do so” but will instead “mobilize citizens to speak out for their adoption and implementation.”

Politico, which notes that the group is being run by former White House and campaign officials, reports that OFA guidelines allow unlimited corporate and individual donations, but no donations from lobbyists, foreign agents or PACs. Information about donation disclosures was less specific, with the OFA website only saying the organization “will make full and regular disclosures over the course of the year of donations received” and that it will “post these disclosures to its website on a schedule to be announced in the near future.”

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