Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Republican Trash Talk or Democratic Connivery? What Obama Allegedly Did Wrong

According to a vast amount of sources, Obama’s campaign can be accused of violating all of the aforementioned campaign finance laws (see previous blog here). According to Kenneth R. Timmerman, a journalist for Newsmax.com, “more than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign would not disclose.” In the beginning of the race, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee began with $95 million after spending several million in the primary election against Hillary Clinton. The Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign, which accepted public funding, started off with $84 million. And, before Election Day, Obama’s campaign was able to raise hundreds of millions more than the McCain campaign all thanks to a number of small contributors whose names and addresses have been kept secret. Up until now, the Obama campaign was not required by law to disclose any contribution under the $200 limit, however, “the FEC breakdown of the Obama campaign has identified a staggering $222.7 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less; and, only $39.6 million of that amount comes from donors the Obama campaign has identified.” The remaining $183.1 million has drawn great suspicion, since such an amount seems unlikely and questionable in nature. According to Timmerman, “it is the largest pool of unidentified money that has ever flooded into the U.S. election system, before or after BCRA.”

Furthermore, the Obama campaign, according to many investigators such as Matthew Mosk and Michael Isikoff, has not gone above and beyond the transparency requirements. This is where most believe that Obama’s campaign is at fault. Obama’s accumulation of more than $400 million owes its thanks to the Internet because nearly half of Obama’s contributions were through Internet donations. In fact, “of the $150 million Obama raised in September of 2008, nearly $100 million came in over the Internet.” Newsweek says that the Obama campaign did not shield its Internet contribution page from illegal donations. An online investigator discovered that Obama’s campaign turned their website’s Address Verification System (AVS) off. The AVS service checks to see that the billing address given by the customer matches the credit card. Since Obama’s website did not contain such a protection, donations from anonymous individuals were accepted. This negligence makes it impossible to determine if one individual surpassed the $200 limit because the background information given did not have to match the credit card. Thus, Obama’s campaign was able to receive donations from individuals who may have exceeded the spending limit by using several different names and addresses. This makes it harder for the campaign to disclose and identify those contributors who gave more than $200 and to reimburse those who gave more than $4,600. Unlike Obama’s site, Hillary Clinton’s and John McCain’s websites used an address verification system.

In addition to disregarding an AVS, the Obama campaign is accused of accepting prepaid credit cards, which has never been done before. According to Matthew Mosk from Newsweek, “Obama’s presidential campaign allowed donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade the limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or mask a contributor’s identity.” An untraceable prepaid credit card only frustrates the FEC in determining where the money is coming from. Such an investigation would take months to complete. Campaign finance lawyers claim that “the problem with such cards is that they make it impossible to tell whether donors who have exceeded the limits and government contractors who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.”

Reporters claim that by turning off the AVS and accepting prepaid credit cards, the Obama campaign has allowed several anomalies to occur, all of which break campaign finance laws. For example, one contributor was able to identify themselves as “Will, Good” from Austin, Texas. Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.” Timmerman notes that “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 has given Obama $17,375, an amount well above the limit for a single contributor. The Obama campaign claims that they have given the amount of 330 contributions back to Mr. Good Will, but an amount of $8,950 still remains. The FEC flagged Mr. Good Will and has forced the Obama campaign to return the excess amount back to the donor.

Newsweek makes it clear in their articles on this topic that Obama’s campaign finance tactics have opened the gate for identity theft problems. Using the Mr. Good Will case, the donor supplied as his address 1015 Northwood Park Boulevard, which matches the location of the Goodwill Industry located in Austin, Texas. According to the Newsweek article, Suzanna Burmeister, the marketing director for Goodwill Industries, said “the group had no clue who the donor was and that the institution received five puzzling thank you letters from the Obama campaign for their generous contributions.” These letters forced the company to send an e-mail to the campaign to inform it of the fraudulent use of its name. In addition, several contributors have identified themselves as Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and Bill Ayers. The most heard of case of identity theft due to Obama’s unprotected website is the case of Mary T. Biskup, a retired insurance manager from Manchester, Montana. Mrs. Biskup turned up on Obama’s contribution list as giving a whopping $178,000, which is $175,700 more than what one person can give to a candidate in the general election. In an interview, Biskup stated that she never made those transactions, and that her credit card was never billed for the donations, meaning someone appropriated her name and made a contribution with a different card.

The most talked about anomaly caused by the Obama campaign’s lack of security and protection for their Internet website is the concern of illegal foreign donations. The problem of not having an AVS on an Internet payment page and the acceptance of prepaid credit cards make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals have donated to the Obama campaign. However, there is proof out there that does indicate that foreigners have donated to Obama. For instance, Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff was talking about this issue on MSNBC and he noted that many of the Internet contributions have come in obviously fictitious characters from many Islamic countries around the world in strange denominations less than $200, like $14.23, $56.21, and $18.98. These amounts indicate that a foreign transaction fee took place causing the few additional cents to show up in the donation. Pamela Geller from American Thinker conducted an extensive research and discovered the same exact thing. She writes that “Thousand of Obama’s foreign donations ended in cents; and, we compared McCain’s donations to Obama’s and McCain’s are so clean: no cents, all even dollar amounts.”

Even when such a speculation does not warrant the claim that Obama has been receiving illegal foreign donations, more proof somehow emerges. Timmerman claims that the FEC is questioning a pool of donations they think came from overseas. The pool contains about 11,500 contributions that total $3.38 million. More than 50 of these contributions listed their “state” as “UK,” which stands for the United Kingdom. Also, Timmerman states in July and August, the Nigerian stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers that raised an estimated $900,000 in donations. The sponsors of the fundraiser claimed that the money was going to be used to help Nigerians attend the Democratic convention in Denver. Due to the rise of skepticism on where the money was going to be spent, the Nigerian public anti-fraud commission investigated (and still is investigating) the matter.


6)Scott Donaldson- http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2008/10/021856.php

1 comment:

  1. Thank You for your informative Article.


    Albert N. Milliron, Editor Iron Mill Interactive Media Inc