Paul Bedard at The Washington Examiner hinted at a developing donor scandal on Thursday that could emerge from the Obama campaign soon. According to Bedard: (bolding is mine)
Sources told Secrets that the Obama campaign has been trying to block the story. But a key source said it plans to publish the story Friday or, more likely, Monday.
According to the sources, a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation into presidential and congressional fundraising and has uncovered thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations to Obama and Capitol Hill, allegedly from unsecure accounts, and many from overseas. That might be a violation of federal election laws.
Bedard points out that the Obama camp has received “hundreds of millions in small dollar donations, many via credit card donations through their website” and that the campaign announced on Thursday that they raised a record $150 million dollars.
The Washington Post reported in 2008 that the Obama Biden campaign was scrutinized over allowing donors use “largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity.”
Interestingly, back in January of 2010, President Obama attacked the Supreme Court at the State of the Union that year over the high court’s decision on the Citizens United Case. He specifically said the decision would allow foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections.” (video above):(bolding is mine)
“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
Around that moment Justice Samuel Alito could be seen mouthing the words, “not true.” The president went on to urge Congress to “pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”
As I noted in my 2010 piece regarding the president’s hit on SCOTUS at the State of the Union, the Obama-Biden 2008 campaign was forced by the Federal Election Commission to return campaign donations to 39 different foreign countries well after Mr. Obama was sworn into office. The Hill reported in July 2009: (bolding is mine)
President Obama’s campaign committee wants your money — but only if you happen to be an American citizen. But even those who can’t vote and don’t live in the U.S. seem intent on handing him money.
Obama, who has attracted adulation from foreign audiences both during the campaign and in early trips to Europe and Egypt, has also attracted more concrete types of support from overseas in the form of thousands of dollars in contributions from foreign nationals.
But under federal election law, the campaign cannot accept foreign money, and the enthusiasm some foreigners have for the president is causing remaining campaign staffers headaches as they try to return the money.
According to Federal Election Commission reports filed last week, Obama for America last quarter returned more than $89,000 to foreign nationals. The foreigners came from 39 countries on six continents, stretching from Uganda to Haiti, Luxembourg to China and Egypt to the Philippines.
Additionally, my January 2010 post mentioned that:
“According to Newsweek ,in October of 2008, reported on two Palestinian brothers in the Gaza strip who managed to give $33,000 dollars to the campaign by buying a massive amount of Obama t-shirts through the campaign’s online store. The Obama campaign reportedly returned the money. However, one must wonder if smaller undetectable amounts of foreign donations from the online store found their way into the Obama campaign treasure chest. Untraceable Obama Campaign donations were also an issue reported on the trail in 2008.”:(bolding is mine)
“The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations.
In recent weeks, questionable contributions have created headaches for Obama’s accounting team as it has tried to explain why campaign finance filings have included itemized donations from individuals using fake names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro. Those revelations prompted conservative bloggers to further test Obama’s finance vetting by giving money using the kind of prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore and cannot be traced to a donor.
The problem with such cards, campaign finance lawyers said, is that they make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.
‘They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in,’ said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. ‘I think they’ve made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn’t outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront.’”
If the Obama campaign is accepting campaign donations from foreign nationals, it cannot be treated as a Britney Spears-like “Oops, they did it again” reaction. It must be dealt with the appropriate consequences.