Members of Congress have been remarkably quiet about President Barack Obama’s controversial new advocacy group, Organizing for Action, but the GOP super PAC American Crossroads has jumped in with an excoriating new video that rebrands the president’s group “Organizing for Access.”
Never mind that Organizing for Action operates in exactly the same way as Crossroads GPS, the politically active nonprofit that is an arm of American Crossroads. Crossroads GPS spent $70.6 million on independent campaign expenditures in the 2012 elections, according to the Sunlight Foundation. But like OFA, Crossroads GPS operates outside the disclosure rules as a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit.
Obama organizers pledged to voluntarily disclose donors to the group when they announced in January that Organizing for Action would take up where the Obama campaign left off, rallying grass-roots support for the president’s agenda. But the group has drawn a steady drumbeat of criticism and bad press, including recent editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post casting its activities as disturbing end-run around campaign finance laws.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, donors of $500,000 or more will be rewarded with quarterly meetings with the president. Run by Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 national campaign manager, who just set up his own for-profit political consulting firm, OFA’s recent spending includes $100,000 on ads to pressure GOP lawmakers to back gun control measures. Common Cause President Bob Edgar called on Obama last week to shut the group down.
The American Crossroads ad features video clips of Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC News, saying, “This just looks bad. It looks like the White House is selling access,” and asking, “I wonder what candidate Obama would say about this?” The satirical ad, which hawks “Organizing for Access” as a commercial product that accepts “all major credit cards, personal checks and large stacks of cash,” also features a video clip of Obama saying, “We’ve got to change how business is done in Washington.”