Obama Campaign's Illegal Foreign Donations; Internet Giving Opens Door to Non-U.S. Donors

Article excerpt


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. …