Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Barack Obama: the Campaign Finance Crook

Or so it would seem since Barry's campaign doesn't seem particularly interested in verifying where its small campaign contributions are coming from. The Government Accountability Institute has been looking at the possible proliferation of illegal foreign campaign contributions -- particularly by unverified, unsecured online credit card transactions:

Credit cards include a security code, usually three digits in length, known as the Card Verification Value (CVV) code.  If you’ve purchased anything online, you have almost certainly used this code – it’s the “number on the back of the card.”  These codes are regarded as a fairly effective anti-fraud measure, and are very widely used in electronic commerce – about 90 percent of online retail transactions require the buyer to enter their CVV code, and most charity organizations require it for credit card donations received by telephone or Internet.

 Can you guess what campaign is the king of accepting unverified, unsecured credit transactions as campaign donations?

What makes this security lapse troubling is that it opens the door for illegal foreign campaign donations, made via credit card.  The absence of CVV and address verification protocols does not automatically prove the existence of a problem with such foreign donations, but it creates the potential for mischief, particularly when there is a great deal of foreign interest in a particular campaign.  Most campaign videos include a Web address for making donations – that’s one of the big reasons for distributing such videos.  When they receive wide distribution overseas, foreign donors flock to websites that don’t use verification systems to screen out illegal donations.

There is also the danger of automated systems making a high number of small individual “robo-donations” to pump big money into a campaign, in defiance of campaign finance regulations.  A system cranking out a tidal wave of donations of less than $50 apiece can largely escape scrutiny.

These verification systems are so widely used that their omission seems curious, to put it mildly.  This is particularly true in the case of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.  Questions were raised about the possibility of illegal foreign donations in Obama’s 2008 race, so it strains credulity to think his 2012 campaign operation was unaware of the problem.  (While the media paid very little attention to the story, it became unofficially known as the “Doodad Pro” scandal to conservative bloggers, after one of the crazy fake names invented by Obama’s tsunami of suspicious small donors.  “Doodad Pro” ended up making something like 800 individual donations to the Obama campaign.)

Furthermore, the Obama website also sells campaign merchandise, such as mugs and T-shirts… and those transactions are protected with CVV.  But the actual campaign donations are not.
Why would the Obama web site want to verify merchandise purchases but not campaign contributions? Seems a little odd, doesn't it?

It seems the Obama campaign used the same shenanigans during the last presidential campaign but got a big pass from the media. Now these crooked tactics are back again but that's not all:

The other suspicious element of the Obama campaign finance picture is the existence of foreign “redirection sites” that route Internet traffic to Obama’s unsecured donation page.  One such site, Obama.com, has been “purchased by an Obama bundler in Shanghai, China with questionable business ties to state-run Chinese enterprises,” according to the GAI report.  Fully 68 percent of the traffic to Obama.com is of foreign origin.

An entire section of the full GAI report is dedicated to unraveling the mystery of this redirection site.  “The fact that Obama.com is not owned or managed by the Obama campaign is a mystery,” muses the GAI.  “Obama for America owns 392 different domain names bearing either the President’s name or the name of campaign initiatives.  It seems logical that Obama.com would be sought after by the campaign.”
The appearance of impropriety is written all over the Obama campaign's fishy fundraising tactics. But it looks like the apparently crooked fundraising may be getting closer scrutiny.  Let's hope so. We  need to expose Barry and his ilk for the crooks they are.

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