Obama’s Radical Friends

OFA 2.0 considering merger with radical left-wing groups


The new Obama advocacy nonprofit Organizing for Action is reportedly considering a merger with a left-wing umbrella group whose financiers have ties to Palestinian terrorists and Central American Marxists.

The Common Purpose Project (CPP), an affiliation of left-wing activist groups, may merge with Organizing for Action, the new 501(c)4 iteration of the Obama campaign’s 527 group, Organizing for America.

The Common Purpose Project held periodic meetings attended by top liberal groups during President Barack Obama’s first term. Top White House officials regularly attended the meetings and the president himself has even attended one.

Erik Smith and Laura Burton Capps—CPP’s founder and the group’s managing director, respectively—have reportedly attended at least 50 “planning sessions” at the White House.

Among CPP’s donors are Sandor and Faye Straus, founders of the left-wing Firedoll Foundation. The couple has funneled money to a host of radical organizations through Firedoll.

According to Firedoll’s form 990 filings, it has provided $30,000 in grants to a group called the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ). AFGJ’s president Katherine Hoyt worked for Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinista government.

The Nicaragua Network, one of AFGJ’s “core projects,” was created with the explicit goal of overthrowing the government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle, the predecessor to the Sandinista regime. Somoza was expelled from power in 1979, months after the Network’s inception.

Other Alliance activities in Latin America have included defending leftist leaders Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Rafael Correa of Ecuador against charges that they supported the Colombian narco-terrorist organization FARC.

Ron Arnold, an investigative journalist and author of Freezing in the Dark: Money, Power, Politics, and the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, said the radicalism of these and other Firedoll grant recipients could reflect poorly on Organizing for Action (OFA).

“Does [OFA chief Jim] Messina really want to associate his brainchild with these sorts of organizations?” Arnold said in an email, adding that groups like AFGJ “cross the line from liberal to outright radical.”

Other Firedoll-funded groups include the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, which has financial ties to the Holy Land Foundation, an Islamic charity shuttered by federal law enforcement authorities for financing Palestinian terrorist groups.

A spokesperson for the foundation declined to comment on its grants or grantees.

“I think it is sad and disappointing that OFA and the president would see no problem in merging with an organization whose donors are associated with funding of dictators, terrorists, and other human rights violators,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former attorney in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

The insular nature of the left’s funding apparatus can blur the line between mainstream groups and the left-wing fringe, according to Arnold.

“You’ve got a select group of people that finance so many of these organizations, so you’re bound to get some overlap between the so-called professional left and the real anti-capitalist, anti-American radicals,” said Arnold.

The Common Purpose Project did not respond to requests for comment.

Lachlan Markay   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Lachlan Markay is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He comes to the Beacon from the Heritage Foundation, where he was the conservative think tank's first investigative reporter. He was also a contributing editor for Newsbusters.org. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and the Washington Examiner. He graduated from Hamilton College in 2009, and currently lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @lachlan. His email address is markay@freebeacon.com.

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