Organizing for Action, President Barack Obama’s liberal advocacy group, arranged a meeting between White House officials and one of the group’s prospective donors who was involved in a legal battle with a federal agency, the New York Times reports.
Michael Isikoff first broke the story that OFA had accepted a $100,000 check from Joseph Piacentile, a New Jersey doctor who was seeking a White House pardon for his 1991 Medicare fraud conviction.
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The contribution was reportedly solicited by Munr Kazmir, a New Jersey businessman who is being sued by a federal agency.
Jon Carson, the group’s executive director, met last December in New York with the businessman, Munr Kazmir, a philanthropist and Republican fund-raiser who founded an American school in Pakistan. In an interview, Mr. Kazmir said that Mr. Carson had initiated the meeting, in which the two discussed immigration reform as well as Mr. Kazmir’s problems with a federal agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, that had provided a loan for the Pakistan school but sued Mr. Kazmir after several payments were missed.
Mr. Kazmir said that Mr. Carson also asked him whether he would be interested in raising money for Organizing for Action events with Mr. Obama.
In January, a fund-raiser for the group emailed Mr. Kazmir about ticket prices for a planned February dinner with Mr. Obama. Two weeks later, Mr. Carson arranged for a meeting at a Washington coffee shop between Mr. Kazmir and a White House aide, Yohannes Abraham, Mr. Carson’s former subordinate.
"As soon as Mr. Abraham learned that this meeting involved ongoing litigation, he immediately terminated it and made clear he could not get involved," said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman.
The next day, Mr. Kazmir told the fund-raiser he had found a donor. In early February, he sent the fund-raiser a copy of a $100,000 check written by a New Jersey doctor, Joseph Piacentile.
OFA said it later returned the donations and fired the fundraiser who accepted it.
The Times also reports that OFA acknowledged that it tried to steer controversial contributors to other liberal groups that do not disclose donors on at least three occasions.