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Opinion: Columnists

Mark Tapscott: Obama's Organizing for Action is pay to play, writ large

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For just $500,000 a year, you can buy four audiences per year with President Obama, courtesy of Jim Messina and his helpful buddies at Organizing for Action.

Don't worry about whether it's illegal. Jim and the gang have lots of like-minded friends at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government who can fix things.

Messina managed Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. The day after the election, Messina and company took the campaign formerly known as "Obama for America" and rechristened it as the nonprofit -- i.e. tax-subsidized -- "Organizing for Action."

No matter what you call it, OFA does one thing -- campaign 24/7 to generate support for Obama and his policies among voters, the mainstream media, Congress, left-wing activists, and on campus. Look for it to join in the mud-throwing discrediting of Obama's opponents, too.

Helping a president attract support for his program was traditionally done by the Republican and Democratic national committees. What makes OFA unique is how it illustrates Von Clausewitz's familiar maxim that "war is the continuation of politics by other means." Only in this case, the war is against opposition to Obama's programs.

Lots of people on the Left and Right seemed surprised this week that OFA is so blatantly selling access to the nation's chief executive. My question is why is anybody shocked to learn that access to Obama is for sale?

You can bet George Kaiser, one of the 100 richest people in the world, wasn't at all surprised by the OFA revelation. Kaiser was a high-dollar bundler who at one event alone raised an estimated $250,000 for the president during the 2008 campaign.

Kaiser was also a central actor in the Solyndra scandal after Obama took office. Kaiser's family foundation was among the investors in the solar energy panel-maker that got $535 million from Obama's Department of Energy, only to have the company go bankrupt later.

Solyndra was indicative, not exceptional. Just this week, Cause of Action, an activist watchdog nonprofit, said it found that 95 percent of the firms that got Energy Department loans were political contributors, while only 31 percent of those who sought but were denied loans were donors.

Put another way, "Pay to Play" is rule number one in the Obama era. Those who are surprised to discover this now only prove they haven't been paying attention -- either intentionally or otherwise -- for a long time.

To be sure, the mainstream media did a lousy job of vetting Obama in 2008, then mostly ran interference for him throughout his first term, either by routinely giving him the extreme benefit of the doubt or purposefully ignoring plain facts in front of their collective noses.

But after this newspaper's "The Obama You Don't Know" series appeared last September, nobody in this town could ever again say they weren't warned.

Our Richard Pollock -- former Washington producer for ABC's "Good Morning America" -- spent four months talking to Obama's close friends, former friends, political enemies, donors, neighbors, bosses, law partners, mentors and anybody else in Chicago who knew him when. Obama, it turns out, is a product of the Chicago Way -- using the power and perks of government to reward friends, punish enemies and feather favored nests.

Early on, he left community organizing to become the dynamic young lawyer who showed Chicago's political machine operators, wealthy liberal activists and developers how together they could use hundreds of millions of federal housing dollars to gain votes, power and wealth.

Obama appropriated the Daley Machine's venality, cloaked it in Saul Alinsky's radical rhetoric, added a sheen of Mr. Nice-Guy, and then rode it to the Illinois state senate, the U.S. Senate and finally the White House.

Four years ago, The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone called the result "Gangster Government." Today, it's called "Organizing for Action."

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner