The massive database of 13 million campaign supporters that helped fuel Barack Obama’s run to the White House is again being tapped by Democratic party operatives to create a private political-action army in support of the new president’s massive $3.5 trillion budget proposal.
The efforts blur the line between candidate and president, something Democrats complained vociferously about when George W. Bush hired Karl Rove to handle political affairs in the White House in 2001. Those same critics have gone silent about Obama's perpetual campaigning.
E-mail invitations are even being sent to the same cadre of fake names and questionable contributors that ran the Obama campaign afoul of Federal Election Commission auditors last year.
Memos to recipients with names such as Bart Simpson, Daffy Duck and Saddam Hussein are going out by the thousands, along with the millions of entreaties to legitimate Obama supporters. All are being asked to join the President’s political organization and keep the pressure on Congress to pass the sweeping agenda of the Obama White House.
The e-mails all originate from an outfit called “Organizing for America,” which is designed to look and work just like the now-defunct Obama campaign website. Organizing for America even took over the Internet address – my.barackobama.com – that was being used by the Obama campaign. And the site is run by many of the same people, starting with David Plouff, Obama’s campaign manager.
In the e-mails, Plouff asks supporters to call members of Congress (phone numbers and e-mail addresses provided) to lobby for specific legislation. He also asks them to lobby their local media outlets and to knock on neighbors’ doors to generate support for the president and his agenda.
Some of the e-mails include direct, video-taped appeals by the President, direct evidence that the political lobbying effort has been coordinated with the White House. While the e-mails carefully state that Organizing for America is "a project of the Democratic National Committee,” they also state that they are “not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee."
And yet, Obama has stated many times that he fully intends to be a candidate for re-election.
"President Obama is also registered legally with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for the United States Senate from Illinois in 2010, and that campaign committee even accepted contributions for that Senate election in December, after he was elected president," says Cleta Mitchell, GOP co-chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association.
"The relationship between Obama the candidate and Obama the president is .. dicey. And the added spectacle of the DNC running this political machine for the White House independently of Obama the candidate is a very interesting legal tightrope, one that the left-wing campaign reformers would be screaming about if it were being done by Republicans."
During the Bush administration, California Democrat Henry Waxman went after White House political operative Karl Rove for doing far less than what Plouff is doing.
Waxman complained that Rove was running a “political effort” out of the White House, and pushed for new legislation last summer to “ban the next Karl Rove” from the White House.
"Why should we be using taxpayer dollars to have a person solely in charge of politics in the White House?" Waxman asked. "Can you imagine the reaction if each member of Congress had a campaign person paid for with taxpayer dollars?"
To prevent the appearance of doing precisely what Waxman accused them of doing, Rove and other Bush White House staffers used laptops and Blackberries provided by the RNC for their political correspondence.
That led Waxman to demand copies of all correspondence from those non-White House accounts as well, to see if they were being used to secretly conduct government business.
"And now Rep. Waxman's eyes have apparently gone suddenly blind to what is happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," Mitchell adds.
The Obama camp captured millions of e-mail addresses of supporters who gave small amounts to the campaign. More than $250 million of Obama’s campaign war chest came from such donors, whose names were never disclosed to the public or to the Federal Election Commission.
The fictitious donors include the likes of Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Commie Pinko Leftie, and many more. Real persons stood behind those particular fictitious names: citizen reporters and professional journalists who sought to test the security features on the Obama campaign websites.
They soon were able to document that Obama’s Internet team had turned off normal website security features to allow contributions from fictitious or non-existent individuals, as Newsmax revealed before the election.
Now Obama’s army – the real life supporters, as well as the fictional ones – are being called upon by former Obama campaign staff to transform themselves into a pressure group to support the president’s governing agenda, without a word from Waxman or other Democrats about the potential impropriety of using the Office of the President for partisan political purposes.
“When we won the election in November, I said that our victory alone was not the change we were looking for; it was only the chance to make that change. It was the chance for the millions of Americans who knocked on doors and answered phone calls to keep on working and keep on organizing for the change we need in America,” Obama said on a video prominently posted on the website and emailed to supporters.
This particular message was released just before his week-long overseas trip that began on Sunday. Obama went on to call on his army of supporters to “head out this Saturday and knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let people know how important this budget is for our future.”
His Organizing for America website offered a step-by-step plan for activism, including a sample script for lobbying calls to Congress and to neighbors.
Not all neighbors are responding favorably, however.
James S., who lives in Arlington, Va., was asked by an Obama supporter to sign a petition in favor of the budget. When the woman with the clipboard admitted that she hadn’t read the budget, he sent her away.
“How can you expect me to sign something in support of a document you can’t even read?” he asked.
Sometimes the door-knocking takes on a more sinister tone.
Dave Wallace is a conservative Republican who hosts an occasional radio talk show in Maryland. Last week, after he ripped into the Obama budget on air, he says he received the visit of a woman who informed him that she was monitoring every word he said on air.
“I thought she was from ACORN,” Wallace said. “I asked her to leave her name so I could stay in touch with her, but she said not to worry, she’d be coming back.”
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