- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2012

President Obama portrays himself as a watchdog of credit card companies and a critic of their fees, but his re-election campaign is a gold mine for some of those same companies.

Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Obama for America paid more than $480,000 in credit card fees in June. The campaign of Republican Mitt Romney, by comparison, paid about $37,000 in charge-card fees last month.

The Obama campaign paid those fees to American Express and Visa, through its subsidiary CyberSource Inc.

Online contributions to the president’s re-election campaign fund are assessed a fee by the credit card companies.

There’s evidence that the Obama campaign’s early foray into a mobile phone credit card donations app, with a swipe attachment, is generating even more fees for card issuers. Campaign officials unveiled the mobile technology in January, and the fees paid by the campaign in June nearly reached the level of credit card fees for the entire fourth quarter of last year — $612,903.

The “Square” attachment plugs into mobile devices and allows anyone to take a credit card payment from anyone else. The card companies receive a 2.75 percent transaction fee.

The Romney campaign, too, has begun to use the mobile-phone app for credit card donations. Disclosures for the individual campaigns showed that Obama for America raised $45.9 million in June, while Romney for President raised $33 million.

In the 2008 presidential race, critics accused Mr. Obama’s campaign of encouraging fraudulent credit card donations because the campaign turned off the standard “Address Verification System” that screens credit card charges for matching names and addresses. The 2012 Obama campaign apparently is again using the same practice; a campaign spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Obama has positioned himself as a consumer champion when it comes to fees charged by banks and credit card companies. Last fall, he ripped Bank of America for a $5-a-month debit card fee, saying it wasn’t entitled to those profits.

When he accepts the Democratic nomination in September, the president will deliver his acceptance speech in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., although Democratic officials lately have begun to refer to the arena as “Panthers Stadium,” after the local NFL football franchise that plays there.