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Independent Obama group raises nearly $5 million in first quarter

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Organizing for Action dinner in Washington March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Organizing for Action dinner in Washington March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

By Gabriel Debenedetti

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The advocacy group dedicated to promoting President Barack Obama's agenda said on Friday more than 100,000 donors pitched in to give it just under $5 million in the first quarter of 2013, as it publicized its fundraising numbers for the first time.

Organizing For Action, which operates independently from the White House, said it received 109,582 donations totaling $4.89 million - an average contribution of $44.65.

It published the names of people who gave more than $250. Sixteen donated more than $50,000, led by philanthropist Philip Munger of New York, who gave $250,000.

John Goldman of Atherton, California, and Nicola Miner of San Francisco each donated $125,000. They were the only other donors giving more than $100,000.

Goldman hosted a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with Obama at his home in April.

The group came under fire in February after the New York Times reported that donors who gave $500,000 or more could attend quarterly meetings with Obama. The report sparked accusations that the group was selling access to the president, a charge rejected by White House press secretary Jay Carney.

No supporters donated that much in the first quarter. Only 1,428 donors - or 1.3 percent of the total - gave $250 or more.

Organizing For Action has focused mainly on immigration reform and tightening gun controls, two of Obama's priorities that Congress is grappling with.

The group was spun off from Obama's re-election campaign and launched in January as the president began his second term. It is the first independent effort of its type to support a sitting president.

Its chairman is Jim Messina, who managed Obama's re-election campaign. Executive director Jon Carson is a former White House staffer who most recently directed the Office of Public Engagement.

(Editing by Fred Barbash, Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)

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