February 9, 2013

Byron Tau Gives Politico Credit For Story on OFA Politicking — Until His Final Sentence

Does the Politico do so little noteworthy original work that it has to make it appear as if it’s taking credit for stories it didn’t break? It sure looks like it from here.

In a story about President Obama’s Organizing For Action organization, the not-for-profit lobbying result after Obama and those running the presidential campaign’s Organizing For America chose to become a permanent fixture, Politico’s Byron Tau predictably whitewashed the seriousness of OFA’s violation of IRS rules against partisan political activity in allowing a supporter of Democrat Terry McAuliffe to recruit signature gatherers for his gubernatorial campaign. Tau also acted as if his web site had gotten the story either first or at the same time as a competitor when he wrote in his second paragraph that “OFA removed the post after it was flagged by POLITICO and the Weekly Standard.” Then, in the final sentence of his 11-paragraph entry — one I guess he hopes nobody will read — Tau wrote:

The news of the McAuliffe fundraiser was first reported by the Weekly Standard.

Then why did you originally make it look like the Politico was right there with the Weekly Standard?

Jeryl Bier’s Weekly Standard entry correctly conveyed the potential legal seriousness of the offense (links are in original):

Obama Group Runs Afoul of IRS Rules, Its Own Promise

By Organizing for Democrats.

The latest problem involves a local event (actually a series of events) posted on the site as a “Day of Action” to collect signatures for Democrat Terry McAuliffe to get the former chairman of the DNC on the ballot for governor of Virginia …

… under the rules governing 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations, which is what Organizing for Action is according to its “About” page, such activity on behalf of a candidate or political campaign is prohibited. IRS rules state: “The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

As noted above in the event listing, the host for the event is John Heflin, who appears to be an intern for the Terry McAuliffe for Governor campaign, and previously worked for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and the Wisconsin branch of the Obama for America campaign.

Even if Organizing for Action does not have a pre-screening process for the listing of such events, this posting has been on the site for more than two day without being caught.

This is not the first time Organizing for Action has run afoul of 501(c)(4) IRS regulations.  Two weeks ago, before OFA suspended its donations page, at least two emails when out, one from the president himself and one from Vice President Biden.  Both emails were labeled as “Paid for by Organizing for Action,” and yet the links in the email took recipients to the BarackObama.com website where donations were still be accepted for the Obama Victory Fund to pay off campaign debt. …

OFA laughably claims it will not “be involved in any way in elections or partisan political activity,” while also stating that “Its exclusive purpose is public policy advocacy and development, and in particular, both enactment of President Obama’s legislative agenda and the identification and advancement of other goals for progressive change at the state and local level.” Even if it successfully screens out all efforts at electioneering, the idea that campaigning for the “enactment of President Obama’s legislative agenda” doesn’t constitute “partisan political activity” crosses the line into Orwellian Newspeak.

Then again, so does initially claiming credit for breaking a story while admitting later that someone else got it first.

It almost goes without saying that there would be far more establishment press attention paid to shenanigans of this nature if a Republican or conservative organization were involved.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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