Bloomberg News

Obama Group Donors Include Hip-Hop Artist ‘Pras,’ Philanthropist

April 13, 2013

The National Education Association, a Beverly Hills hip-hop artist and hedge fund manager Orin Kramer are among the top initial donors to a nonprofit issue-advocacy group founded by President Barack Obama’s former campaign aides.

The group, called Organizing for Action, has raised $4.9 million since it was formed in January, OFA officials said in a statement yesterday. More than 109,000 people gave, and the average contribution was $44.65, according to the statement.

OFA has been using Obama’s e-mail list of 13 million supporters and his social media accounts, particularly Twitter and Facebook, to promote his second-term policies. The group also has purchased online advertising, held rallies on tightening gun controls and blasted e-mails advocating the president’s desire to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

As a nonprofit, OFA isn’t legally required to disclose its donors -- an arrangement decried by watchdog groups including the Washington-based Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center. OFA yesterday posted to its website the names and contribution amounts of anyone who gave $250 or more, and the group said it will continue to make such disclosures every three months.

Three people have given six figures: Philip Munger, a New York philanthropist, gave $250,000; Levi Strauss heir John Goldman, who lives in Atherton, California, contributed $125,000; and Nicola Miner, a San Francisco art benefactor, wrote a check for $125,000. Miner’s father co-founded Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US), and her husband is the novelist Robert Mailer Anderson.

Familiar Donors

One union, the National Education Association, made the top-25 donor list, contributing $15,466. OFA says it doesn’t accept contributions from corporations. Prakazrel Michel, better known as “Pras,” a founding member of the hip-hop group Fugees, gave $20,000.

Michel was one of several celebrity donors. Blythe Danner, an actress and environmental activist -- and mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow -- contributed $500. Nancy Sinatra, the daughter of Frank Sinatra known for her 1966 hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” also gave $500.

Most of the large donors are familiar names to Democratic candidates, and about a dozen of the top-25 OFA donors raised $500,000 or more for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Donald Sussman, founder of Paloma Partners hedge fund and the husband of Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, gave OFA $50,000.

Andrew Tobias, treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, also donated $50,000 and Kramer, a general partner at Boston Provident LP, gave OFA $75,000.

For Related News and Information:

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at jbykowicz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net


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