Starting this coming Sunday, the Obama Campaign will officially roll out a new chapter. It will be called Organizing for Action, a 501(c)4 that will utilize the organization and millions of volunteers who signed up to help support Obama’s presidential campaigns. It will be headed up by Jim Messina, the Obama 2012 campaign head.
Some may ask why they’re doing this and what purpose it will serve. Former President George W. Bush’s General Counsel, Michael Toner, told the Los Angeles Times that it might be for purpose of legacy, but Michelle Obama explains it’s a much larger mission than that.
While the First Lady states that the agenda is open, the first items most likely to be addressed are gun control and immigration. The issue of gun control makes sense since it’s the issue that’s front and foremost on everyone’s mind. It also makes sense because both of those issues will be included in the weekend’s list of workshops. This move shows that those who ran the campaigns understand one important lesson about organizing volunteers – have your volunteers work on the issues that they care passionately about, and not necessarily those that a select few think are important. The next question is, where does the Democratic National Committee fit in?
As several sources have pointed out, the move to transfer the political campaign and its resources to a non-profit is a turn from previous administrations. Historically, the money and resources are put back into the DNC. While some within the inner circle of the DNC might balk at Organizing For Action’s decision to go non-profit, it does seem to make sense. By making the move to a 501(c)4, a social welfare entity, the organization can accept unlimited donations without revealing the sources of those donations. The limitation to that designation is that the purpose of the organization cannot be a political one. However, knowing the reality of the enforcement of that limitation, and all of the other organizations that have taken advantage of that weakness, it’s unlikely to be suffer from that. While transparency of donors isn’t required, AP sources hint that the organization plans on voluntarily disclosing the identities of individuals and corporations of those who donate.
All that being said, there are still many unanswered questions at this point. Some will be revealed later today when the official announcement is made. Whatever the case, it’s surely going to get people talking. Only time will tell how this will change political campaigns and organizations that help to shape public policy.