Showing the truth of the adage that everything eventually comes back in style, President Obama’s former campaign organization once again is holding raffles for a chance to have a personal meeting with the president.
On Tuesday Organizing For Action sent an email inviting supporters to enter a raffle for a chance to meet the president. After entering their email address and zip code they are taken to a page which strongly suggests they need to make a donation to the organization.
The email says in the subject line, “The president wants to meet you.”
It then goes on to say, “Next month we’re flying three OFA supporters and their guests out to meet the president. If I know the president, he’ll be thrilled to hear about why you’re involved and working to move a progressive agenda for the nation.”
Supporters clicking on the link to enter the contest are asked to provide their email address and zip code, after which they are taken to a page that says, “Thanks-Now Chip In.”
Following the 2012 presidential campaign, Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager, announced the formation of Organizing For Action in order to continue help advance the president’s agenda. The organization bears the same initials as the president’s campaign organization Organizing For America.
Obama officials have gone out of their way to claim that OFA is a group totally independent of the president and is simply an advocacy group similar to tea party organizations. However, unlike tea party organizations that have had their applications held up for years, OFA successfully had its 501(c)4 application approved in just a few months.
While IRS officials asked conservative groups probing questions including the content of individual prayers, membership lists and in the case of one organization even demanded the group promise not to protest outside of Planned Parenthood clinics, there is no record of similar scrutiny being given to OFA.
During the presidential campaign, Obama For America was criticized for holding a series of raffles offering Obama supporters a similar opportunity. A June 15 mail sent by Obama For America signed by the president said, “I’ve set aside time for four supporters like you to join me for dinner.”
Obama went on to say, “We rely on everyday Americans giving whatever they can afford – and I want to spend time with a few of you. So if you make a donation today, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to be one of the four supporters to sit down with me for dinner. Please donate $5 or more today.”
In February, OFA was criticized by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd after The New York Times reported that Organizing For Action donors who raised $500,000 or more would be given quarterly meetings with the president.
“This just looks bad – it looks like the White House is selling access,” Todd said on his show The Daily Rundown. “It’s the definition of selling access. If you believe money has a stranglehold over the entire political system this is ceding the moral high ground.”