The Washington Post

How Organizing For Action spent the August recess, by the numbers

President Obama, alongside former campaign manager Jim Messina, listens to an audience member at an Organizing for Action event. (YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS ) President Obama, alongside former campaign manager Jim Messina, listens to an audience member at an Organizing for Action event. (YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)

For many, August is a time for rest and relaxation. For members of Organizing for Action, it is a time for more than 2,000 rallies.

That's according to a new memo by the group's executive director Jon Carson, which members will receive Wednesday morning. According to the missive, titled, "The Undeniable Success of 'Action August,'" the group pressed its case for issues including health care, immigration reform, climate change and gun control in a myriad of communities across the country. "We built an organization that is powered by deeply-motivated Americans changing the conversation in Washington from the ground up, and this August was not only a validation of the OFA model of organizing, but it also showed once again that Americans are eager to end the pettiness in Washington and ready to make progress together," Carson wrote in the memo, obtained by The Washington Post.

The group, a nonprofit affiliated with President Obama, held more than 500 immigration reform events this month, including ones in six districts held by Republicans who support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Aaron Schock (Ill.), Dan Webster (Fla.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.).

OFA volunteers held over 225 Obamacare events, nearly 300 rallies urging action on climate change and close to 200 events aimed at enacting stricter background checks on gun sales. On global warming, the group is targeting the 135 members of Congress who publicly question the connection between human activity and climate change, delivering "climate denier awards" to lawmakers such as Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).

This frenzy of activity is making a mark on social media and in the press. On Aug. 21, Carson wrote, its day of action on gun violence "left the biggest footprint. OFA’s #WhatWillItTake hashtag trended nationally on twitter, and our volunteers drove national coverage from Bloomberg, and local press clips from Nashua, NH to Santa Clarita, CA."

But has it changed lawmakers' minds this month? So far none of the members of Congress the group targeted in August has changed his or her public position on immigration reform, climate change, health care or gun control. The real test, however, will come once they return to Washington next month.

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.

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