Obama to speak at OFA dinner

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 8:50am

President Barack Obama will appear at a dinner Wednesday night for Organizing for Action, the nonprofit group that originated from his re-election campaign, multiple sources tied to the organization confirmed Monday.

The dinner comes amid criticism that the group plans to grant special access to the president for top OFA donors--a claim that Jim Messina, the group's national chairman, has attempted to rebuke.

While some have attacked OFA for being like other organizations that take large donations from anonymous wealthy contributors and corporations, Messina wrote in an op-ed Thursday for CNN.com that OFA does not "accept contributions from corporations, federal lobbyists or foreign donors."

And while it doesn't have to disclose all of its donors, Messina said they "believe in being open and transparent" and pledged to identify donors who give more than $250 every quarter.

Last month, reports in the New York Times and Washington Post indicated supporters who raised or contributed more than $500,000 for OFA would be invited to attend meetings with the president four times a year. The group was formed in January from the remaining infrastructure of Obama's presidential campaign to help promote his policy agenda.

The reports quickly prompted questions of whether top donors could buy access to the president.

Asked directly whether $500,000 was the "price tag to see the president," White House press secretary Carney told reporters no, and stressed that OFA was an independent organization with restrictions on how it can interact with administration officials.

But he didn't deny that top donors to the group could attend meetings with Obama or members of his staff.

Wednesday's OFA dinner is part of a two-day summit at the Washington hotel. The group has been actively working to advance the president's policy goals, including his recent pushes on immigration, fiscal matters and gun control.

The event occurs on the eve of the Conservative Political Action Conference--an annual conservative gathering in the Washington, D.C. area--opening up plenty of room for more criticism from the right about Obama's relationship with donors.

Politico first reported the story about Obama's upcoming OFA appearance.

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