Newsmax.com RNC: Obama 'Outside Law' on Donors
Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:40 PM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
The Republican National Committee on Thursday supplemented its Oct. 6 complaint to the Federal Election Committee and — citing new revelations by Newsmax and other news organizations — called on the FEC to “immediately conduct a full audit” of the Obama campaign accounts.
The RNC complaint asserts that the Obama campaign had demonstrated a “lack of compliance with the law” because of its acceptance of prohibited donations from foreign nationals, excessive contributions from individuals, and donations from unknown sources.
At the same time, RNC officials said they recognize that the FEC has “no authority” to freeze campaign accounts or to take other actions that would actually prevent the Obama campaign from spending money illegally obtained from foreign nationals to influence the U.S. presidential election.
“The system isn’t designed for actors who are going to ignore the law,” RNC chief legal counsel Sean Cairncross told Newsmax.
A Newsmax analysis of the Obama campaign’s campaign finance disclosures found 60,000 donations in unrounded amounts that fundraising experts said clearly suggested were “foreign currency transactions” translated into U.S. dollars.
The Obama campaign claims that many of these donations were purchases of T-shirts form the Obama store. However, when asked by Newsmax to provide an accounting for receipts and expenditures of the Obama store, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt could only name a single supplier who sold merchandise worth less than $500,000, according to campaign records.
[Editor's Note: See "Obama Donations Enshrouded in Mystery."]
RNC chief counsel Sean Caircross commended Newsmax for reporting that helped to break open the secretive fundraising schemes used by the Obama campaign.
“The Newsmax articles constitute some of the exhibits to our original complaint,” he said. “We commend Newsmax and other media organizations who are doing a good job in looking into what seems to be a rather large issue for the Obama campaign.”
Reporting by Newsmax and others of fictitious donors such as “Family Guy” and “King Kong” made it “clear that the Obama For America campaign is operating outside of the law,” Cairncross said.
“The complete and total lack of any control mechanisms within the Obama campaign’s fundraising operation has undermined any confidence in their ability to curtail excessive, foreign, and fraudulent contributions and demands immediate attention from the Federal Election Commission (FEC),” he added.
The RNC now believes that the Obama campaign violated federal election law by “accepting contributions resulting from third party fraud, and possibly accepting contributions made in the name of another,” the complaint asserts.
Such contributions — made in the name of “Saddam Hussein,” “Osama bin Laden,” “OJ Simpson” and others — are the only violation of federal election law that carries a criminal penalty, RNC sources and outside campaign finance lawyers said.
While the Obama campaign has said repeatedly that they have procedures in place to screen out possible illegal donations, the spate of news reporting to the contrary shows that they have failed, the latest RNC complaint asserts.
“Developing a large donor base and raising enormous sums of money” — excuses commonly cited by the Obama campaign for the influx of illegal donations — “is not an excuse for ignoring the law.”
While the Obama campaign claims that it has “bent over backward” to root out illegal contributions, it has ignored contributions that were explicitly made by foreign nationals, the complaint says, citing an August 2008 report from the Associated Press.
The AP report identified Australian citizen Richard Watters, who contributed $1,000 to the Obama campaign via the Internet “by entering a fake U.S. passport number and checking a box stating that he was a U.S. citizen living abroad.”
In another case, a Canadian donor named Tom Sanderson gave $500 to the Obama campaign via the Internet, and included a note in one of the address fields stating, “I am not a (sic) American citizen!”
“From the moment it was made, the Sanderson contribution was clear on its face that it was coming to a foreign national,” the RNC complaint states.
Given that the Obama campaign couldn’t detect such an obvious violation of law, “it is unsurprising that (Obama for America) was also unable to detect contributions from unknown sources with blatantly fictitious names,” the complaint says.
The RNC complaint cites the “now infamous” cases of “Good Will” and “Doodad Pro,” which Newsmax helped to expose.
[Editor's Note: See "Secret, Foreign Money Floods Into Obama Campaign."]
The New York Times exposed contributions from other fictitious donors such as “Test Person,” residing in “Some Place, Utah,” and “Jockim Alberton,” residing at a fictional address in Wilmington, Delaware. They also cited donors giving the names “Derty West” and “Derty Poiuuy,” both residing in “rewq, ME.”
The Los Angeles Times found a series of contributions from “Mong Kong” that gave a nonexistent address. The Obama campaign said they were unaware of the illegality of these contributions until the press reports appeared.
Other contributions were comprised of randomly selected letters. The Obama campaign took 37 separate donations of $10 each from “Jgtj Jfggijfgi,” $7,497.59 from “Dahsudhu Hdusahfd,” and $11,900 from “Uadhshgu Hduadh.”
The RNC says it believes that while some of the contributors using fictitious names may have done so “in order to remain anonymous… Many of them may have been using fictitious names to skirt the law,” since their contributions were “far more than the $4,300 legal limit.”
Not only has the Obama campaign “accepted contributions from unknown sources, but it also may have accepted contributions made in the name of another,” the RNC said.
“A Newsmax investigation reports the existence of a growing trend to purchase disposable “gift” credit cards to make donations,” the complaint says, citing a report that appeared earlier this week.
[Editor's Note: See "Obama Turns Blind Eye to Credit Card Donation Fraud."]
“These 'gift' credit cards can only be tracked by the numbers, so there is no way of knowing who made the contribution,” the complaint states.
A Newsmax informant said he had made a series of $5 donations in less than an hour, each time using “a different name and address, all of which were obviously fictitious and some even including foreign addresses,” the RNC complaint states.
Among the fictitious donors were “Daffy Duck,” “Bart Simpson,” and “Raela Odinga.”
In addition, the RNC cited several media reports that said both personal and corporate credit cards had been charged with unauthorized contributions to the Obama campaign.
Ms. Patricia Phillips, a Virginia resident who also is a candidate for the State Senate, discovered a $5 charge on her corporate credit card statement for a contribution to the Obama campaign.
“Ms. Phillip’s situation is troublesome for two primary reasons,” the RNC complaint states. “First, OFA accepted a contribution from a corporate credit card,” which is illegal. “Second, OFA accepted a contribution that was fraudulently made.”
The Washington Post uncovered that donation, as well as a $2,300 contribution made to OFA that was charged to the credit card of Steve and Rachel Larman of Missouri without the couple’s knowledge.
As Republicans, they were surprised to receive their credit card statement and discover the donation to the Obama campaign.
The RNC complaint noted that, by all appearances, the Obama campaign had disabled standard security features on its fundraising website.
“For example, online merchants usually match the cardholders’ provided name and address to the credit card number to protect against fraud,” the RNC noted. But “given the high number of fictitious contributor names linked to credit card contributions, OFA appears not to be consistently following this practice.”
Even more troubling than these cases appearing in the Obama campaign’s itemized contributions is the $270 million that the campaign has taken from undisclosed sources.
“The RNC believes that widespread illegalities may exist among these un-itemized contributions and requests that the Commission immediately investigate both itemized and un-itemized contributions in both the OFA primary and general election periods to ensure a fair and open election.
“The American people deserve to know the origin of the over $600 million that may help elect a President of the United States,” the complaint concludes.
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