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Blue on Blue: Feinstein Gripes About Organizing for America Campaign

2:16 PM, Aug 12, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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I never thought I'd enjoy a Democratic senator from California as much as I've enjoyed Dianne Feinstein for the past couple months. From vocally supporting the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, against her party's wishes, to vocally dressing down the White House for not keeping her in the loop on the Panetta pick for CIA, she has become an unexpected pleasure.

Given that the junior senator from the state of California could make Grendel look a charming statesman by comparison, Feinstein really doesn't have to be reasonable at all for image reasons, so I applaud her doubly.

Today, she's hitting Organizing for America, the astroturf totally genuine grassroots operation of the Democratic National Committee, for misleading constituents into thinking they have scheduled meetings with her. When her offices aren't able to accommodate each constituent, they're understandably upset with her, and she's upset with the White House:

Aides to Senator Dianne Feinstein have complained to the White House about a deluge of visits to her offices by constituents who thought they had an appointment after OFA called on supporters to visit members of Congress, Feinstein's office confirms to me.

OFA recently blasted out an email to its list asking supporters to "visit" the office of their representatives. OFA asked supporters to sign up in shifts to avoid overwhelming the offices, whereupon supporters received follow-up emails reminding them of the "scheduled visit" they'd chosen. OFA advised them to "call ahead" before visiting.

But some constituents took the follow-up email to mean that they had a hard-and-fast scheduled meeting with their members of Congress, and around 100 such people showed up at Feinstein's offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Feinstein spokesperson Gil Duran says. The visitors got upset when they learned they didn't have a scheduled meeting, Duran says, adding that Feinstein's office "expressed their concerns" to the White House.

I wouldn't have expected such community organizer FAIL from this White House, but I guess you get rusty when you're running the country.

Update: The GOP is getting plenty of blow back for this, too, as OFA claims to "schedule" meetings with House Republicans for constituents:

House Republicans are accusing the Democratic National Committee of attempting to mislead voters into believing they have a formal meeting in Members' offices during the recess as part of the two parties' escalating war over health care reform.

Republicans argue that the DNC, through its Organizing for America grass-roots arm, was "scheduling" meetings for constituents that did not exist in an effort to ramp up anger against the GOP.

OFA launched a program earlier this month that encouraged supporters to "stop by" their Congressman's district office to express their support for the Democratic health care reform plan. The site offered the ability to schedule the visit; the problem is that Republicans say the group forgot to inform the offices about the appointment.

The difference between a "visit" and a "meeting" has created confusion in several Congressional districts where district staff has had to field calls and visits from constituents.

"Concerned people seeking to meet with their Congressman or Senator, especially on an important issue like health care, do not deserve to be misled and misinformed by the president's political operatives," said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). "This type of manipulation is not the ‘change' America was promised and we hope this misleading site is pulled down immediately."