WASHINGTON -- Reversing course amid criticism, a nonprofit group run by former advisers to President Barack Obama said yesterday it would not accept corporate donations and would disclose the specific amount of money it receives from donors.
Jim Messina, the chairman of Organizing for Action, wrote in an article published yesterday by CNN.com that the group believes in being "open and transparent" and had decided not to accept corporate money, a move in keeping with Obama's past campaign practices. Every donor who gives $250 or more will be disclosed on the group's website with the exact amount on a quarterly basis, he said.
The close ties between the White House and Organizing for Action, a nonprofit formed from Obama's 2012 campaign, have drawn questions about whether bundlers who raise $500,000 or more for the group will get quarterly meetings with Obama. The group and the White House have disputed that.
Open-government groups have said Obama has changed course since being critical of the role of money in politics during his first campaign and the start of his presidency, and they say the nonprofit provides ways for corporations and individuals to influence the administration.
"Every donor who gives $250 or more to this organization will be disclosed on the website with the exact amount they give on a quarterly basis," Messina wrote. He said the group would not accept contributions from corporations, federal lobbyists or foreign donors. Obama has rejected such donations in the past, but the committee running his second inaugural accepted funds from corporations and did not release specific donation amounts from donors. Organizing for Action said later that it would accept funds from labor unions.
Corporations will still have an outlet to connect with the administration. Business Forward, a 3-year-old trade group that has organized meetings with Obama officials, has said it will ramp up its operations.
The group, funded by corporate money, has received funds from about 50 companies that pay $25,000 or $50,000 a year to be involved and participate in briefings between administration officials and businesses.