FITTON: Obama campaign’s illegal foreign donations

Internet giving opens door to non-U.S. donors

In a controversial speech in Berlin in 2008, then-presidential candidate and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama proudly declared that he was addressing his audience not as a candidate for president of the United States, but as a “fellow citizen of the world.”

According to a recent report issued by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), people residing in countries around the globe are apparently taking President Obama’s declaration a bit too literally and may be flooding the Obama campaign with foreign contributions in violation of federal election law.

The report’s authors, Peter Schweizer and Peter Boyer, noted the key finding in a recent article in the Daily Beast: “With millions of online campaign donations ricocheting through cyberspace, one might think the Federal Election Commission would have erected serious walls to guard federal elections from foreign or fraudulent Internet contributions. But that’s far from true. In fact, campaigns are largely expected to police these matters themselves.”

To repeat: The FEC provides virtually zero oversight for Internet contributions. The political campaigns are responsible for policing themselves.

The prospect of illegal foreign donations is an especially thorny problem for the Obama campaign. Here’s why: The Internet site Obama.com isn’t owned by the Obama campaign. It’s owned by China-based American businessman Robert Roche, CEO of Acorn International, a large media company. As Mr. Schweizer and Mr. Boyer note, 68 percent of the some 2,000 visitors each day on Obama.com are foreign in origin.

The fact is many of these noncitizens could very easily make an illegal contribution to the Obama campaign. Visitors to Obama.com are redirected on the site to a donation page on the campaign’s official website, BarackObama.com, and reportedly receive campaign solicitations as well.

This mixing and mingling between the Obama.com website’s large foreign following and the Obama campaign website is problem No. 1. Here’s problem No. 2: Internet donations continue to flood into the Obama campaign, creating a rich environment for campaign finance fraud.

Former Bill Clinton campaign consultant Dick Morris described the scope of the problem in a recent column: “In September, the Obama campaign got 1.8 million donations from small contributors who did not break the $200 threshold requiring that their information be reported to the Federal Election Commission. They gave the campaign 98 percent of the $181 million it raised that month, a figure vastly higher than its take in any previous month.”

Not only is there a lack of strict separation between Obama.com and Obama’s official campaign website, but the issue is magnified by the amount of funds raised by the Obama campaign over the Internet.

More from Mr. Morris: “Questions arise because the Obama campaign, unlike Romney’s or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton’s in 2008, refuses to ask donors for their CVV number (the number on your credit card that one is often asked for after giving one’s name and expiration date). The CVV is designed to assure that the donor is actually physically holding the card.”

Why would the Obama campaign officials oppose any effort to ensure the legitimacy of a campaign contribution? It’s the same reason they oppose voter ID laws. The Obama campaign evidently believes that election fraud and campaign finance fraud are permissible tools for the purpose of retaining power.

No doubt the political left will say that foreign donations to the Obama campaign are a “phantom” problem. However, there is physical evidence. Breitbart.com captured some disturbing screen shots from Obama.com, including an email written from a Canadian woman admitting to an illegal donation in 2008: “I had donated to the original campaign and will again,” she writes. “I would also give my vote but alas I am a Canadian but am a staunch supporter of the Obama-Biden Team.”

How many other “staunch” foreign Obama supporters are opting to flout the law and fill the Obama campaign coffers? This is a question that should not be left to political campaign operatives to answer.

Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch and author of “The Corruption Chronicles” (Simon & Schuster, 2012).

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