A few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times reported that Organizing For Action, President Obama's new advocacy group, was planning to give top donors unprecedented access to the White House. Donors or bundlers who raised $500,000 or more, the newspaper reported, would be get meetings with President Obama.
For Common Cause, Obama's decision to sell access to the White House represented another missed opportunity to take the lead on democracy issues. From refusing public financing in both of his presidential campaigns to embracing a SuperPAC created by some of his closest aides in 2012, President Obama has a long way to go if he wants to leave a legacy of reform.
We believe that every American's voice should be heard equally, regardless of wealth. That's why we decided to ask you, our members and supporters, what you would tell the President to do to fix our democracy.
The response was overwhelming; more than 2,000 of you wrote to ask the President to not sell access to the White House and use OFA as a vehicle to fix our democracy by reining in the money in politics.
Here's a sample:
Mr. President, I belong to OFA and I believe in most of the things you do but why should we put a price tag on a ticket to meet with you.
Please lend your support to a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United and make all Americans have an equal voice in the betterment of our country.
I believe that Citizens United simply has to be thrown OUT. When corporations, not people, have power, that's NOT democracy.
Against that backdrop,we were especially excited to see OFA's decision to disclose its contributions, refuse corporate money, and walk back the guarantee of in person meetings with the President. Shortly after that decision was announced, we were invited to meet with White House staff and share our members' comments with them.
Kyle Lierman, the White House aide who accepted our messages, thanked members for their input. We reiterated our hope that President Obama will leave a lasting legacy as the President who fixed our democracy and got big money out of politics.