By Justin Sink
Last week, Politico reported that Messina would be opening the newly restructured group's office just blocks from the White House. While he is not expected to hold an official West Wing title, the former campaign manager will likely play a large political role in Obama's second term — especially with the expected retirement of senior adviser David Plouffe. On Friday, the paper said the group would operate separately from the Democratic National Committee.
The group will also operate separately from Priorities USA, the super-PAC that supported the president's reelection effort and is run by former White House staffer Bill Burton. While as a super-PAC, Priorities can continue to devote its resources to overtly political spending, the new 501(c)4 group is prohibited by federal law from having politics as its primary purpose.
Still, many groups — including former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's Patriot Voices and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS — use the tax-exempt status to advocate policy goals. Unlike with other campaign spending, the organizations allow donors to remain anonymous.
The president has already leaned on his campaign apparatus to help in policy fights since his reelection, encouraging supporters to lobby Congress ahead of the "fiscal cliff" deal and emailing updates about his push for new gun control. During an interview Wednesday on MSNBC, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs suggested the campaign apparatus would play an important role in the fight over gun control.
“The president has the most exciting campaign apparatus ever built. It’s time to turn that loose,” Gibbs said. “It’s time to turn that loose for something more than just an election. If the NRA’s got a list, then Obama for America has a bigger list."