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First POST: OFA 4.0

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, January 18 2013

OfA 4.0

  • The Obama campaign will relaunch as a tax-exempt group led by Jim Messina, the L.A. Times and Politico reported. The LA Times reports that the campaign's voter and supporter data might go to a separate organization that could more easily coordinate with political campaigns. Here's the LA Times:

    The organization will be set up as a 501(c)4 social welfare group, according to top Democrats privy to the discussions. That structure allows it to accept unlimited contributions.

    But rolling over the assets of a presidential campaign into a tax-exempt advocacy group presents some legal challenges. Campaign finance lawyers noted that such an organization cannot have politics as its primary purpose, according to Internal Revenue Service regulations.

    Such groups also are not required to publicly disclose their donors, a practice that Obama repeatedly deplored as he fielded attack ads in the 2012 campaign from 501(c)4 organizations such as Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity. The pro-Obama group could voluntarily reveal its contributors, however.

    It's unclear what relationship the new group will have with the Democratic National Committee, which runs the party. As a 501(c)4, it will face restrictions on coordinating with political committees.

    The Obama campaign's data files — its most valuable assets — may be housed in a separate legal entity that would make them accessible to Democratic candidates and party committees, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Around the web

  • The Knight Foundation announced the winners of the Knight News Challenge focused on mobile, including a Digital Democracy effort to produce a toolkit for indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

  • Rodrigo Davies argues that civic crowdfunding is first and foremost beneficial for participation, not necessarily for a project's budget.

  • Obama for America sent out an e-mail to supporters yesterday asking them to support the administration's gun proposals. The White House also posted videos of the children who had sent letters to President Obama about guns reading them out.

  • According to Politifact, Obama has "fulfilled or made substantial progress on 73 percent of the 508 promises he made when he ran for president in 2008."

  • The official inauguration playlist has been released on Spotify.

  • Aaron Swartz's father told the L.A. Times that his son was "was hounded to his death by a system and a set of attorneys that still don’t understand the nature of what they did. And they destroyed my son by their callousness and inflexibility.”

  • Nate Anderson notes "just how quickly one young geek's death has mobilized even national political columnists — who by this point must have seen just about everything — into an outrage that grew beyond Swartz and has which has quickly opened up a national conversation about justice, and about how we seek it."

  • Danah Boyd writes about the importance of seeking real change after Swartz's death, beyond seeing him as a martyr.

  • Mike Masnick and Charles Pierce strongly criticize the statement U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz released about the Swartz case and how some others are defending her.

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation published its recommended improvements to "Aaron's Law" proposed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Lawrence Lessig sent a message to Demand Progress supporters asking them to "demand justice for Aaron" and to support "Aaron's Law."

  • MIT's student newspaper has an interactive timeline of its coverage of the Swartz case.

  • The Economist published an obituary of Swartz.

  • On her birthday, Michelle Obama got a non-campaign associated Twitter account at @FLOTUS, which gathered over 68,000 followers in its first day. The Washington Post highlighted some of the reactions on Twitter.

  • All Republican Senators are now on Twitter, according to @SenJohnThune.

  • The Guardian notes that a judge's decision in the Bradley Manning case denies him the chance to make a whistleblower defense.

  • Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been paying for online ads on the websites of New York news organizations encouraging New York gun owners to move to Texas with the message "WANTED: Law abiding New York gun owners seeking lower taxes and greater opportunities." The ads link to a Facebook page noting that Texas has no income tax, so "you'll be able to keep more of what you earn and use that extra money to buy more ammo." He told Reuters: "It is tongue in cheek, but there is a deeper message here. Texas really does stand as the last bastion of ultimate freedom in this country. Over the last decade, more than 4 million people moved to this state, and one reason is freedom and one reason is economic opportunity."

  • The House is beginning to publish committee data at

  • The Government Printing Office has improved the metadata for its collection of U.S. statutes on FDsys.

  • OpenSecrets highlights how the incoming members of Congress have raised its average net worth.

  • The Small Business Administration is launching RFP-EZ as part of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to simplify the government bidding process for small companies.

  • Ambassador Terry Kramer says the U.S. delegation to the ITU conference succeeded at eliminating 80 to 90 percent of the objectionable issues from the telecommunications treaty, the Hill reported. "We don't think right now there's a lot of huge looming issues," he said, but added that there are some concerns about ambiguous definitions, though it is too early draw any conclusions since the treaty doesn't go into effect until 2015.

  • A new study found that younger people are more likely to share their affiliations, and that liberals were more likely to have blocked someone over their views.

  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is asking outgoing EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to reveal all e-mail accounts she and her staff used to conduct official business.

  • A new Tumblr is tracking New York City campaign finance filings for 2013 candidates using data from the Campaign Finance Board.

  • The Buffalo News has requested Erie County's gun owner data for its own use, but says it does not intend to publish it.

  • Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has appealed to the FCC to release funding that could help provide broadband Internet access to rural areas in upstate New York. Separately, he also praised plans for a high-technology incubator in Binghamton.

  • Harold Feld analyzes the dispute between Netflix and cable companies for Public Knowledge.

  • National Cable and Telecommunications Association president Michael Powell said in a speech that cable companies were interested in usage-based pricing due to pricing fairness, not network congestion.

  • Certain scanners will be removed from U.S. airports because the company producing them was unable to write software to make the images of passengers that they create less revealing.

  • A hacker at a computer security conference in Miami demonstrated the ease by which a Smart Grid wireless communications system could be breached, the New York Times reported. "'I see these placed everywhere that I want them to be as a hacker,' Atlas said of Silver Spring’s wireless communications. 'I see the sales getting better. I see a Titanic running full speed towards an iceberg, with the potential for a rudder that might make the turn in time.'"

  • Chris Hughes previews the relaunch of the New Republic in a letter to readers.

  • The New York Times recently highlighted efforts by defense lawyers to expand the access to DNA databases to defendants, not just prosecutors and law enforcement officials.

  • A genetics researcher was able to identify five people and their families, around fifty people in all, from supposedly anonymous genetic data posted online.

  • GlobalPost has published an interactive map showing global income inequality.

  • A "Make Me Asian" smartphone app that was the target of an online activism campaign has disappeared from the Google Play store.

  • A study has found that "e-visits" to the doctor could be effective for certain uncomplicated health issues.


  • The British Government Digital Service has released a new version of its tool tracking government transactions, as the Economist also noted.

  • CBC Radio discussed the issue of "ethical hacking" looking at the example of a Dutch lawmaker who faces charges for digital trespassing after exposing a security gap in a medical research center's website.

  • The French government intends to propose a change in law regarding how multinational companies like Google and Amazon are taxed by the end of the year.

  • In commentary published in French newspaper Liberation, Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, emphasizes the importance of consumer choice and addressed the problematic aspects of Do Not Track efforts in response to a French Internet provider's decision to block advertising.

  • Google plans to develop new headquarters in London's King's Cross neighborhood worth as much as 1 billion pounds.

  • Google Crisis Response has published resources and maps in connection with a flood in Jakarta.

  • A photo of the president of Uruguay, Jose "Pepe" Mujica, known for his frugality, having lunch on vacation at a restaurant with no security and in casual clothing, has gone viral.

  • A U.S. official suggests that the cyber-attack on Saudi Aramco was worse than reported, according to Foreign Policy.

  • The Australian spy agency wants the authority to be able to hijack the computers of suspected terrorists.

  • Chuck Norris announces his endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video.