Nonprofit arm of pro-Obama group raised more than $8 million in undisclosed donations in 2012

November 19, 2013

Priorities USA, the independent group that backed President Obama’s reelection, raised almost $8.4 million in undisclosed donations through its nonprofit arm in 2012, more than half of which it gave to Democratic allies such as Planned Parenthood and the League of Conservation Voters.

Three donors to the nonprofit group wrote checks for $1 million and one gave $2 million, according to the organization’s newly filed tax return.

Set up as under the 501(c)4 section of the tax code as a social welfare organization, the nonprofit side of Priorities USA does not have to report the names of its contributors. That structure has drawn charges of hypocrisy from critics on both the left and the right, since Obama has been a vocal critic of the use of secret money to influence the political process.

The majority of the money raised by Priorities USA came through its super PAC arm, which brought in $79 million in the 2012 cycle and reported its contributors to the Federal Election Commission.

In its tax filing, the organization’s nonprofit arm reported spending more than $2 million on “direct advocacy of public policies that advantage the middle class,” including polling and a mailing about fiscal issues sent nationwide.

It also gave $2.25 million to Planned Parenthood, $650,000 to the League of Conservation Voters and $500,000 to America’s Voice, an organization that advocates for an overhaul of immigration laws. Senior strategist Paul Begala was paid more than $241,000 for communications consulting.

Advisers to Priorities USA are currently engaged in discussions about recasting the group as the main outside media super PAC that would provide cover for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she decides to run for president in 2016. Among those who may join the group's newly constituted board is Jim Messina, Obama's 2012 campaign manager.

Matea Gold is a national political reporter for The Washington Post, covering money and influence.
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