Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Line Noise Contributors

The Line Noise Contributors

Yesterday I mentioned the apparently illegal contributions to the Obama campaign. One reader asked why some of these illegal contributors aren't being prosecuted.

1. With respect to foreign contributions, I am quite sure that the U.S. government lacks the authority to prosecute people outside the U.S. for something like improper campaign contributions--and something tells me that Iran isn't going to be assisting us with that effort.

2. Foreign contributions made by persons in the U.S. would seem to be prosecutable--but I suspect that the defendants would plead ignorance, and because the contributions were to Obamessiah, I am skeptical that any prosecutions would be successful.

3. I'm not sure of the exact wording of the statute, but even if U.S. campaign contributions prohibit you from giving above a certain level (as opposed to the campaign accepting above a certain level), it might be difficult to prove that a person who made lots of small contributions knowingly exceeded the campaign limits. Someone who wrote a single check for $10,000 might be another matter.

4. However, as a reader pointed out, when someone gives contributions with an obviously false name, address, and employer--that certainly seems to establish that the contributor was knowingly breaking the law. It isn't like these contributors neglected to fill in the forms--they put in false information. Since these contributions were apparently made by credit card, it is possible to track them down and prosecute. But that would require Bush's Justice Department to actually care about prosecuting such cases.

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