Organizing for Action camped out in HQ of teachers union

Organizing for Action (OFA), the nonprofit group created from President Obama's reelection campaign, camped out in the nation's largest labor union as it worked to set up shop, according to finance disclosures provided Friday.

The group received an in-kind contribution of $15,466 in temporary office space from the National Education Association. The organization worked out of the fourth floor of the teachers union's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

OFA on Friday released the names of 1,428 donors who gave more than $250 to the group in its first quarterly reporting period. The contributions over $250 represented 1.3 percent of the 109,852 donations that the group received during its inaugural fundraising quarter. OFA raised $4.89 million during that period.

ADVERTISEMENT
Unlike the president's reelection campaign, which saw top-dollar donations from Hollywood celebrities, technology executives, and major CEOs, Organizing for Action's donors are not well known. The top donor to the organization was Philip Munger, a Democratic activist who gave the group $250,000.

Only 16 donors gave the $50,000 that The New York Times reported was necessary to earn access to the group's founder's summit in Washington last month, where the president spoke.

The same Times report said that those who gave a half million dollars would be guaranteed quarterly briefings from the president and top administration officials. But OFA and the White House quickly clarified that the group could not promise access to the White House after watchdog groups questioned the report, and no donor gave at that level.

Prakazrel Michel, a member of the Fugees who is better known by his stage name Pras, gave $20,000. Other major donors included Anthony Crabb and Barbara Grasseschi, owners of the Puma Springs Vineyard, who each donated $50,000, and Laura Debonis, a former Google employee who donated the same amount.

Not among the donors: top campaign officials like Jim Messina and David Axelrod, nor the president himself.

OFA has pointed to the voluntary disclosure of donors who gave more than $250 as a gesture towards transparency as critics of the group have questioned its close ties with the Obama administration. Messina, who is heading the group, has said that it will not accept donations from corporations or lobbyists.

"We're going to disclose every single contribution we get, be as transparent as possible," Messina told CBS News.

Officials with OFA have been courting support from unions, which are a major source of campaign cash for the Democratic Party.

Union officials have told The Hill they are discussing partnerships with the group.