Organizing for Action banks $4.9 million in first quarter donations

The nonprofit group born from President Obama's reelection campaign said Friday it had raised just under $4.9 million in its first quarter of fundraising.

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According to an email being sent to supporters Friday morning, Organizing for Action will report they had 109,582 donors in the first quarter, with an average donation of $44. The group's $4.9 million haul came despite a first quarter shortened by a month as the group reorganized following the presidential election.

"To anyone who thought we couldn't do this, these numbers send a pretty clear message," OFA Executive Director Jon Carson said in the email. "It's never been done before, but supporters like you are doing it."

The organization also plans to release a list of donors who gave more than $250 later Friday.

The fundraising numbers come amid political pressure from watchdog groups and Republicans that have accused the organization of selling access to the president.

A report in The New York Times claimed that donors who gave $500,000 would be guaranteed quarterly access to the president and that a $50,000 donation was required to attend a founder's summit, held in Washington last month, where President Obama spoke.

The group has looked to combat that image, saying it had previously decided to disclose individuals who gave over a certain amount and not accept corporate donations. In an op-ed published earlier this year, former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina also stressed donors would not be guaranteed access to the president.

"Whether you're a volunteer or a donor, we can't and we won't guarantee access to any government officials," he wrote. "But just as the president and administration officials deliver updates on the legislative process to Americans and organizations across the ideological spectrum, there may be occasions when members of Organizing for Action are included in those updates. These are not opportunities to lobby — they are briefings on the positions the president has taken and the status of seeing them through."

The group's self-imposed restrictions are likely why its first-quarter fundraising numbers were modest relative to some outside political groups that accept corporate donations.

Still, campaign-finance watchdogs have called on the group to disband.

“President Obama promised to change Washington, but these actions just perpetuate the pay-to-play politics he has repeatedly deplored,” Common Cause president Bob Edgar said in a statement last month.

This post was updated at 8:49 a.m.

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