Share

Opinion

Organizing for Action head caught setting up White House meeting for donor being sued by the federal government

|
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Charlie Spiering,Barack Obama,Organizing for Action

New Jersey doctor Munr Kazmir is facing a federal lawsuit from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation after he missed payments on a $2.5 million loan he received to start a school in Pakistan.

He is also a bundler for Organizing for Action, President Obama's former campaign juggernaut, now restructured as a nonprofit social welfare organization.

According to a new report by NBC's Michael Isikoff, OFA Executive Director Jon Carson set up a meeting for Kazmir with a White House official.

The meeting with Kazmir was set up at a coffee shop next to the White House with Yohannes Abraham, the chief of staff in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

The next day, Kazmir sent an OFA fundraiser the copy of a $100,000 check he solicited from another New Jersey donor, Dr. Joseph Piacentile, who happened to be convicted for Medicare fraud and tax evasion in 1991.

Abraham, however, pulled out of the meeting, according to a White House official, who told NBC that the meeting felt "uncomfortable."

The New York Times adds further detail, including the fact that Carson initiated the first meeting with Kazmir.

In a statement to the Times, Carson said he “fell short in meeting my responsibility as the executive director of OFA to assure that no question about our standards could even be reasonably raised.”

Carson still has his job, but the group fired OFA fundraiser Samantha Maltzman after she suggested that Piacentile send his check to America Votes, another liberal group that does not disclose their donors.

Organizing for Action revealed that an internal investigation found two other instances in which OFA fundraisers have redirected funds to other groups that don't disclose their donors.

In response to the media scrutiny, OFA chairman Jim Messina and Carson issued a memo reminding employees that "no one is authorized to offer opportunities for supporters or anyone else to meet with Administration officials on individual issues or requests on which they are seeking government assistance, including even requests for information or the status of pending official actions."

So what was Carson doing? First he sets up a meeting with a campaign bundler. After the meeting, Carson helps the bundler set a meeting with a White House official. That meeting is canceled, but Carson gets a $100,000 check.

Perhaps Carson never promised anything for his hapless bundler, but it's one more example of why the "wink-wink nod-nod" era of fundraising attracts desperate donors — especially donors wriggling under the thumb of the federal government.

View article comments Leave a comment