Last week, the national media provided glowing, wall-to-wall coverage of the raucous results of Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ town hall in Cottonwood Heights, apparently approving of the behavior of the angry leftists who packed the meeting and shouted the congressman down. Now, Organizing for Action, a liberal group run by former Obama and Clinton campaign operators, is preparing to duplicate such scenes across the country, hiring “field organizers” in 14 states to train “grassroots” activists in the art of disrupting political events in Republican districts.
After a long period of withdrawal from the public eye, Organizing for Action, the political group that grew out of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, is ramping back up for the Trump era with a focus on defending the Affordable Care Act and training grassroots organizers, officials tell NBC News.
Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, OFA was likely headed for a wind-down. But with Trump in the White House, the relaunched OFA will claim a spot in the increasingly crowded marketplace of groups looking to fight the new president’s agenda.
OFA has hired 14 field organizers in states home to key senators as part of its campaign to defend Obama’s signature healthcare law. To run that campaign, the group hired Saumya Narechania — the former national field director at Enroll America, which worked to sign people up for Obamacare — and a deputy campaign manager.
Jennifer Warner is returning to the group as national organizing director after running Democrats’ coordinated campaign in Ohio last year. And former Clinton campaign spokesperson Jesse Lehrich has joined OFA as its communication director.
The rest of the group’s leadership is largely remaining intact, with former Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina and former White House aide Jon Carson as co-chairmen, Katie Hogan as executive director, Jack Shapiro as director of policy and campaigns and Aaron Buchner promoted to chief of staff.
What role Obama himself will play remains unclear.
OFA is looking to expand into other issue areas as well, like climate change and gun control, and is exploring the possibility of launching a program to recruit and train people to run for office. But it is unlikely to get directly involved in electoral campaigns, according to OFA.
For now, it’s focused on planning events ahead of the congressional recess later this month, when members of Congress will hold events in their district. Organizers are hoping to produce more moments like the one at Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ town hall Thursday night when he was confronted by angry constituents.