Monday, August 6, 2012

Those Curious Campaign Contributions to Obama

Those Curious Campaign Contributions to Obama

Here's a longer article which shows that many of these clearly false contributions were made in small chunks--small enough to fall below the $200 level where individual contributors have to be identified in reports:
More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won't disclose.
And questions have arisen about millions more in foreign donations the Obama campaign has received that apparently have not been vetted as legitimate.

The McCain camp and the Republican National Committee had $94 million, because of an influx of $84 million in public money.
But Obama easily could outpace McCain by $50 million to $100 million or more in new donations before Election Day, thanks to a legion of small contributors whose names and addresses have been kept secret.
Unlike the McCain campaign, which has made its complete donor database available online, the Obama campaign has not identified donors for nearly half the amount he has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
Federal law does not require the campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 during the election cycle. However, it does require that campaigns calculate running totals for each donor and report them once they go beyond the $200 mark.
Surprisingly, the great majority of Obama donors never break the $200 threshold.
“Contributions that come under $200 aggregated per person are not listed,” said Bob Biersack, a spokesman for the FEC. “They don’t appear anywhere, so there’s no way of knowing who they are.”
The FEC breakdown of the Obama campaign has identified a staggering $222.7 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less. Only $39.6 million of that amount comes from donors the Obama campaign has identified.
It is the largest pool of unidentified money that has ever flooded into the U.S. election system, before or after the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms of 2002.
Biersack would not comment on whether the FEC was investigating the huge amount of cash that has come into Obama’s coffers with no public reporting.
But Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for CRP, a campaign-finance watchdog group, dismissed the scale of the unreported money.
“We feel comfortable that it isn’t the $20 donations that are corrupting a campaign,” he told Newsmax.
But those small donations have added up to more than $200 million, all of it from unknown and unreported donors.
Some of these small contributions are clearly unlawful, exceeding the maximum allowed contribution by an individual, and made in small chunks to avoid reporting:
In a letter dated June 25, 2008, the FEC asked the Obama campaign to verify a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as “Will, Good” from Austin, Texas.
Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.”
A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25.
In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375.
Following this and subsequent FEC requests, campaign records show that 330 contributions from Mr. Good Will were credited back to a credit card. But the most recent report, filed on Sept. 20, showed a net cumulative balance of $8,950 — still well over the $4,600 limit.
There can be no doubt that the Obama campaign noticed these contributions, since Obama’s Sept. 20 report specified that Good Will’s cumulative contributions since the beginning of the campaign were $9,375.
In an e-mailed response to a query from Newsmax, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pledged that the campaign would return the donations. But given the slowness with which the campaign has responded to earlier FEC queries, there’s no guarantee that the money will be returned before the Nov. 4 election.
Similarly, a donor identified as “Pro, Doodad,” from “Nando, NY,” gave $19,500 in 786 separate donations, most of them for $25. For most of these donations, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You,” just as Good Will had done.
But in some of them, he didn’t even go this far, apparently picking letters at random to fill in the blanks on the credit card donation form. In these cases, he said he was employed by “VCX” and that his profession was “VCVC.”
Far more worrisome is that there are lots of overseas contributions--and some are clearly unlawful:
The FEC has compiled a separate database of potentially questionable overseas donations that contains more than 11,500 contributions totaling $33.8 million. More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran. Another 63 listed it as “UK,” the United Kingdom.
More than 1,400 of the overseas entries clearly were U.S. diplomats or military personnel, who gave an APO address overseas. Their total contributions came to just $201,680.
But others came from places as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Fallujah, Florence, Italy, and a wide selection of towns and cities in France.
Until recently, the Obama Web site allowed a contributor to select the country where he resided from the entire membership of the United Nations, including such friendly places as North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Unlike McCain’s or Sen. Hillary Clinton’s online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until just recently. Clinton’s presidential campaign required U.S. citizens living abroad to actually fax a copy of their passport before a donation would be accepted.
With such lax vetting of foreign contributions, the Obama campaign may have indirectly contributed to questionable fundraising by foreigners.
In July and August, the head of the Nigeria’s stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. The events attracted local Nigerian business owners.
At one event, a table for eight at one fundraising dinner went for $16,800. Nigerian press reports claimed sponsors raked in an estimated $900,000.
The sponsors said the fundraisers were held to help Nigerians attend the Democratic convention in Denver. But the Nigerian press expressed skepticism of that claim, and the Nigerian public anti-fraud commission is now investigating the matter.
Concerns about foreign fundraising have been raised by other anecdotal accounts of illegal activities.
In June, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave a public speech praising Obama, claiming foreign nationals were donating to his campaign.
“All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man,” the Libyan leader said. “They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency..."
Though Gadhafi asserted that fundraising from Arab and African nations were “legitimate,” the fact is that U.S. federal law bans any foreigner from donating to a U.S. election campaign.
The rise of the Internet and use of credit cards have made it easier for foreign nationals to donate to American campaigns, especially if they claim their donation is less than $200.
Campaign spokesman LaBolt cited several measures that the campaign has adopted to “root out fraud,” including a requirement that anyone attending an Obama fundraising event overseas present a valid U.S. passport, and a new requirement that overseas contributors must provide a passport number when donating online.
But what about the contributions already made? The interest alone on some of these unlawful contributions has doubtless given Obama a leg up. What may finally make public campaign financing happen--assuming that Obama's foreign supporters don't successfully buy this election--is that it may be the only way to stop al Qaeda from getting the most malleable president that money can buy.

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