Obama Fundraising Scandal
Government watchdog groups once allied with President Obama warn he could become embroiled in a second-term scandal because of ties to a group set up to collect unlimited donations.
The group, Organizing for Action, plans to raise unlimited chunks of funding to promote the president's agenda. It is chaired by Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager, and advised by David Plouffe, who recently served as Obama's senior adviser.
The creation of this group by Obama's inner political circle combined with the president's silence on campaign finance reform during Tuesday's State of the Union address have alarmed government watchdog groups such as Common Cause and Public Citizen.
"We're concerned by his Organizing for Action group that's being set up because it creates a huge potential for government corruption where basically corporations and other wealthy donors can fund this new group that can be a partner organization that is basically working on Obama's agenda," said Karen Hobert Flynn, senior vice president for policy and program at Common Cause.
"It invites through a back door special interest influence and access and it's a step in the wrong direction," she added.
One Democrat senator, Ron Wyden of Oregon, says at the very least the Obama administration should not allow political advocacy groups such as OFA to benefit from a tax exemption intended for social welfare organizations.
Wyden pressed Jack Lew, Obama's nominee to head the Treasury Department, on the subject during a hearing Wednesday.
"They're really ripping off the tax code because they're not social welfare organizations. They're doing politics," Wyden told Lew.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz defended Obama's efforts to limit the influence of special interests within his administration.
Schultz noted the administration backs the closure of loopholes in government ethics rules and increased disclosure of corporate efforts to gather political intelligence.
Organizing for Action did not respond to a request for comment.
Liberal-leaning good-government groups once considered Obama an important ally. In the past, he touted an array of campaign finance regulations...
But the relationship with left-leaning watchdog groups has soured in recent months...
"It looks like he's embracing Citizens United and the role of corporate money in politics," said Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen.
Organizing for Action will disclose its donors but Holman said that would do little to dispel public suspicions that corporations who donate generously could receive special access.
"I think it's definitely going to embroil the Obama administration in a scandal. Either it's going to be a real scandal or a perceived scandal," Holman said.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/19/2013
Editor's Note: Sure, Mr. Obama is concerned...right...that would be a first: a Chicago politician who is "concerned" about money corrupting the political system...best joke we've heard this year...
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