Big Questions on Obama's Unidentified Donors and Foreign Contributors Raised by RNC Complaint
October 26, 2008 • 7:14PM

Obama's record $153 million in contributions for September raises questions about whether Presidential candidates should be allowed to raise large amounts through credit card transactions over the internet, where little is known about the donor, the Washington Post discovers today in its lead story.

As this news service first reported, $47 million of the $153 million which Obama raised in September was from unidentified contributors—unidentified, because they gave less than the $200 which triggers the requirement to "itemize", or identify the contributor by name, address employer, occupation, and date of contribution.

Obama's campaign claims that it runs sweeps of internet credit card contributions two times a day. Then, flagged contributions are reviewed by lawyers, and findings of misused credit cards lead to immediate refunds—the only problem seems to be that the security system doesn't work.

Republicans, according to a complaint filed by the Republican National Committee on Oct. 6, and supplemented on Oct. 23, have demonstrated that obvious problems have not been flagged: for example, Obama donors "Good Will" and "Doodad Pro" contributed $17,375 through 1,000 separate, small donations, using the address of a Goodwill store and a liquor store, according to both the Post and Newsweek, and were never caught by the Obama safeguards. It seems there could be many more fictitious contributors, especially given Obama's $250 million in unidentified contributions. The fact that such contributions were not even picked up as "repeats," suggest that the Obama campaign is not "aggregating," or totaling contributions, to know when a donor has given $200 and must be identified, or has given $2,300, and is "maxed out."

Foreign nationals have made more than 11,500 contributions, totaling $33.8 million to Obama, the RNC complaint alleges, citing a Newsmax article by Kenneth Timmerman of Sept. 29, 2008. This includes only itemized (over $200) contributions.

The Newsmax article reports that a series of pro-Obama fundraisers were held in Nigeria in July and August. The Nigerian Financial Economic and Financial Crimes Commission confiscated $630,000 from the "Obama for Africa" campaign, which is led by Mrs. Ndi Okereke-Onyuike, Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The complaint also includes a quote by Libyan President Gadhafi, that Arabs and Muslims applaud Obama, and "may have been involved in legitimate contributions campaigns to enable him to win..." But only U.S. citizens or permanent residents can contribute. The article also reports that through the Obama campaign's online store, two Palestinian brothers contributed more than $31,300 by purchasing items in October and November 2007. Unlike McCain or Hillary Clinton's online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until very recently. Clinton's campaign required U.S. citizens living abroad to fax a copy of their passports before a donation would be accepted.

The RNC asks the FEC to examine all of Obama's contributions, focusing particularly on foreign nationals, and excessive contributions. It states that given that Obama is not legally required to itemize all contributions, and, since he did not accept Federal matching funds, he will not be subject to a mandatory post-election audit, and given that there is approximately $250 million in contributions from individuals who will otherwise never be disclosed to the American public, that there should be an FEC immediate investigation.

The Democratic National Committee has countered by announcing its filing of a complaint against the McCain campaign on Oct. 27. McCain, however, has been prohibited from raising money since the Republican Convention; has raised far less money, and is already subject to a full FEC audit.