This is staggeringly unbelievable.
We KNOW that at least $63 million of Barack Obama’s record $605+ million take came from undisclosed–and possibly foreign–sources. We KNOW that contributors to Obama’s campaign Web site were not required to provide addresses which matched credit card records, and therefore could contribute the maximum with one pre-paid credit card and then turn around and contribute another with another card number. Even The New York Times reported that Obama received fraudulent contributions from fictional donors with names like “Test Person” and “Fdsa Fdsa,” and expressed concern as to whether “the Obama campaign [was] adequately vetting its unprecedented flood of donors.”
So, we know that there are unanswered questions as to the president-elect’s fundraising particulars and, just like the unanswered questions regarding his eligibility to serve as president in the first place, I fear these questions will go largely unanswered.
What message does this send? Am I correct to assume that, if a candidate is charismatic enough, if he or she can raise enough money to make their selection practically inevitable, then he or she can simply get a pass and no longer be subject to American campaign finance laws and constitutional guidelines?
Where do we go from here, when there is no accountability whatsoever when it comes to the highest office in all the land?
Read this article, pass it along to every single person you know.
Obama Likely to Escape Campaign Audit
By Kenneth Vogel, Politico.com
The Federal Election Commission is unlikely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of how Barack Obama raised and spent his presidential campaign’s record-shattering windfall, despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting that had the McCain campaign crying foul.
Adding insult to injury for Republicans: The FEC is obligated to complete a rigorous audit of McCain’s campaign coffers, which will take months, if not years, and cost McCain millions of dollars to defend.
Obama is expected to escape that level of scrutiny mostly because he declined an $84 million public grant for his campaign that automatically triggers an audit and because the sheer volume of cash he raised and spent minimizes the significance of his errors. Another factor: The FEC, which would have to vote to launch an audit, is prone to deadlocking on issues that inordinately impact one party or the other – like approving a messy and high-profile probe of a sitting president.
McCain, on the other hand, accepted the $84 million in taxpayer money, which not only barred him from raising or spending more – allowing Obama to fund many times more ads and ground operations – but also will keep his lawyers busy for a couple years explaining how every penny was spent.
Through the end of September, McCain had socked away $9.4 million in a special fund to pay for the audit.
The Obama campaign does not expect to be audited, but spokesman Ben LaBolt said it would be ready in the event it is.
“We have had a first rate compliance operation for an unprecedented national grassroots fundraising effort,” LaBolt said.
“Nobody wants to go through an audit,” said former FEC chairman Michael Toner. As the top lawyer for George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, which accepted public financing, Toner prepared for that campaign’s mandatory audit, before he was appointed by Bush to a seat on the FEC.
Agency investigators fan out across the nation interviewing campaign staffers and vendors to account for even the most seemingly trivial expenses.
The resulting audits have dinged publicly financed presidential campaigns for billing the press for port-a-potties accessible to supporters at events (Bob Dole in 1996) and using the wrong formula to divide the cost of outfitting campaign planes between primary and general accounts (John Kerry in 2004).
Obama – the first presidential candidate to decline public funding in the general election – certainly would provide fodder for the green eye-shades at the FEC’s E Street offices.
Obama’s campaign admitted it initially mis-categorized the purpose of an $832,598 payment for get-out-the-vote efforts to a consulting firm affiliated with ACORN, the community organizing group that became a top target for Republicans alleging voter fraud.
And FEC analysts over the course of the campaign have written more than a dozen letters to Obama singling out hundreds of contributors for whom the campaign either didn’t supply adequate information or from whom he accepted donations exceeding the $4,600 limit.
Spokesman LaBolt said the campaign has corrected errors as it was made aware of them. It’s not at all unusual for the FEC to send many such letters – “requests for additional information” in agency parlance – to big-money campaigns. McCain’s campaign received at least a dozen, for instance.
But the media – first conservative outlets then mainstream publications – seized on the FEC letters to Obama, singling out donations from apparently fictitious donors as well as from foreign addresses – which are permitted as long as the donors are U.S. citizens. Allegations that the Obama campaign was willfully allowing foreign donations and excessive donations blossomed in the conservative blogosphere and prompted the Republican National Committee to file an FEC complaint.
Seizing on Obama’s reversal on a pledge to accept public financing if his Republican opponent agreed to do the same, as well as his campaign’s refusal to voluntarily release the names, addresses and employers of donors who gave less than $200 each – a group that accounted for about half of the more than $600 million that the campaign had raised through the end of September – the RNC asked the FEC “to immediately conduct a full audit” of all of Obama’s contributions.
It’s very rare for a complaint to trigger an audit, campaign finance insiders say.
And ironically, the historic volume of Obama’s small contributions, which may have made it tough for the campaign to weed out problem donations, may also help spare Obama an audit.
That’s because the byzantine formula the FEC staff uses to determine whether a campaign has engaged in “substantial” violations of federal election rules – the trigger to recommend an audit to commissioners – takes into account the size of the campaign’s coffers, according to David Mason, who served as a Republican appointee to the FEC until this year.
“So if a House campaign makes a $100,000 error, that’s huge and they’re likely to get audited,” he said. “If a campaign the size of the Obama campaign has a $100,000 error, then maybe not. It would depend on what the error is, obviously,” he said, explaining that mere accounting snafus are unlikely to prompt an audit. More serious and systemic problems, such as illegal contributions, result in campaigns getting tagged with more “audit points,” Mason explained. “If you get enough audit points, you get audited,” he said, adding “nobody outside the commission would know how many audit points the Obama campaign has.”
Mary Brandenberger, an FEC spokeswoman, declined to comment on the likelihood of an Obama audit. But she explained that if campaigns adequately answer the agency’s requests for information, it’s less likely they’ll be recommended for an audit.
Even if Obama’s campaign reached the audit recommendation trigger point, it’d be tough to muster the majority commission vote necessary to initiate the audit. That’s because the FEC is comprised of three Democratic commissioners and three Republicans and, as such, is prone to deadlock on partisan issues.