Blithely ignoring his own past warnings, President Obama is wading ever deeper into a campaign and politics quagmire filled with potential hazard for his second term. He ought to come to his senses. If he doesn't, it won't be easy to clean this muck off his shoes later on.
The president's team has formed Organizing for Action, a group intended to advance his priorities using the potent grass-roots technology and troops from his winning re-election campaign. According to a summary prepared for donors and reported by The Post's Tom Hamburger, this includes 2.2 million volunteers, 33 million Facebook friends, 22 million Twitter followers and 17 million e-mail subscribers. We see nothing wrong with that.
But how the Obama people are going about it stinks. They have registered the group as a 501(c)4 organization, under a section of the Internal Revenue Code that provides tax-exempt status for "social welfare" organizations, a broad category that was originally envisioned for civic leagues and the like but which has become a favored dark alley for political operators. Such groups are not required to publicly disclose donors or amounts of contributions, as they would be if they operated under the rules of the Federal Elections Commission. As "social welfare" groups, they must pledge that their work is not "primarily" electoral politics, but that has been left ill-defined by tax authorities. Some electoral and political activity is allowed.