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Wealthy supporters fuel Obama nonprofit

Donors include presidential campaign bundlers

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 Updated:

Sixteen people accounted for nearly a quarter of the $4.8 million collected by Organizing for Action, the self-described "grassroots" nonprofit group affiliated with President Barack Obama that was created to push the White House’s policy agenda.

About 109,000 people gave money to the nonprofit from January through March, Organizing for Action announced today.

Donors from California ($568,215), New York ($363,893), New Jersey ($221,737), Florida ($84,010) and Massachusetts ($75,975) gave the most, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

The top donor by far was Philip Munger of New York City who gave $250,000. Munger is a philanthropist, academic and long-time contributor to Democratic causes.

Next were John Goldman of Atherton, Calif., and Nicola M. Miner of San Francisco who both gave $125,000. Goldman is former chairman of Willis Insurance Service of California, Inc. a U.S. branch of a global insurance brokerage firm. Miner is the daughter of Bob Miner, co-founder of Oracle Corp. and wife of John Mailer Anderson, a novelist and screenwriter.

Of the top 16 donors, each who gave $50,000 or more, nine are Obama campaign bundlers — elite fundraisers credited with raising funds from well-connected friends, family members and associates, then delivering it in a "bundle." Organizing for Action bills itself as nonpartisan.

Among other top donors:

  • Orin S. Kramer of Englewood, N.J. ($75,000): Chairman of hedge fund Kramer Spellman LP and former Clinton administration transition team adviser.
     
  • Ryan Smith of Salt Lake City ($50,875): CEO of Qualtrics, a Utah company that produces Web-based software for surveys.
     
  • Anthony P. Crabb of Healdsburg, Calif. ($50,000): Philanthropist and marriage equality advocate.
     
  • Barbara Grasseschi of Healdsburg, Calif. ($50,000): Bundler who raised at least $200,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts and is married to Crabb.
     
  • John Morgan of Orlando, Fla. ($50,000): Partner at Morgan & Morgan, the Florida law firm that employs former Gov. and Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. Morgan is also a campaign bundler who raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts.
     
  • Laura Debonis of Boston ($50,000): Former director of the Google Books Library Project.
     
  • William H. Freeman of Nashville, Tenn. ($50,000): Campaign bundler who raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts.
     
  • Wayne Jordan of Oakland, Calif. ($50,000): Campaign bundler who raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts.
     
  • Michael Kempner of East Rutherford, N.J. ($50,000): Campaign bundler who raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts.
     
  • Charles H. Murphy III of Little Rock, Ark. ($50,000): Founder of Murphy Oil Corporation.
     
  • S. Donald Sussman of Portland, Maine ($50,000): Prominent hedge fund investor.
     
  • Andrew Tobias of New York City ($50,000): Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee and gay rights activist. Also a bundler who raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts.
     
  • Imaad Zuberi of El Monte, Calif. ($50,000): Campaign bundler who raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts.

About 60 percent of the group’s money appears to have come from donors who gave less than $250 and were not identified.

Although the group actively collects donors' employer and occupation information, it has declined to release such information publicly. Withholding such data complicates confirming the identities of donors with common names.

As a nonprofit organization, Organizing for Action is not required to release any information about its donors — unlike campaign committees or super PACs. And for weeks after its founding early this year, leaders offered no indication that it would.

After pressure from campaign finance reformers and others, the group relented and agreed to reveal some donor information. The group also reversed course on seeking corporate contributions. It also refuses lobbyist money, but accepts cash from unions.

The National Education Association is one union that donated early this year, giving the pro-Obama nonprofit $15,466.

Not all big-dollar Obama backers, however, have contributed to Organizing for Action.

For example, the four largest donors to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action — James H. Simons, Fred Eychaner, Steve Mostyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg — were absent from Organizing for Action's donor list.

Reity O'Brien and John Dunbar contributed to this report.