More than a dozen lawmakers who oppose President Barack Obama's plan to expand background checks to all gun-buyers are to be targeted in a series of online advertising as part of a national day of action Friday.
Organizing for Action, the successor group to Obama’s campaign backers, plans to spend up to $100,000 on the campaign, and the national day of action marks the first test of the group's ability to mobilize the president's 2.2 million campaign volunteers to push for legislative change. Organizers have not disclosed which lawmakers will be included in the ads.
OFA plans to sponsor more than 100 events in 80 or more Congressional districts Friday to demand action on the issue. The group says it expects thousands of people to participate in the events, which will include vigils, letter-writing campaigns, and news conferences.
Executive director Jon Carson said the events display the strength the grassroots organization brings to support the president's agenda.
"We have voices in every corner of this country who are supporting his agenda and can make their neighbors understand where their members [of Congress] stand on these important issues,” Carson said, according to USA Today
Obama has presented a sweeping plan to rein in gun violence, in the wake of the Dec. 14 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. Carson said OFA backs the entire plan, which also includes limiting ammunition magazine sizes and banning assault weapons.
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The advocacy group chose the issue for its first push, Carson said, because the majority of Americans support background checks. More than 92 percent of voters support universal background checks for gun-buyers, according to a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month.
Currently the checks are only required for purchases from licensed gun dealers.
OFA is organized as a social welfare organization under the U.S. Tax Code, and marks the first time a president has established such a group, as usually, his party's national committee works to support agenda items.
Carson said the group is “100 percent focused on issue campaigns” and won't be working on any candidate's election politics. The Democratic National Committee will instead work to help elect more Democrats to Congress, with Obama committing to hold at least 14 fundraisers this year.
OFA has come under some criticism because of how it is organized. The Democratic Party is under strict contribution limits, but OFA can take in an unlimited amount of money, allowing it to raise large sums for its events and advertising.
The group won't take money from political action committees or federal lobbyists, said Jim Messina, who has moved from being Obama's 2012 campaign manager to chairing OFA. However, Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer calls OFA a “dangerous” precedent that allows special interests to influence the administration.
OFA's offices are now in Washington, but will relocate to Chicago, Obama's hometown, by June, and the organization hopes to survive past the president's second term.
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