Fresh off the latest fundraising scalp claimed by Barack Obama, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute has publicized a report called “America the Vulnerable: Are Foreign and Fraudulent Online Campaign Contributions Influencing U.S. Elections? Among its key findings are a number of disturbing facts about the President’s online contribution reporting, including these which should give advocates of good government pause:
Obama.com Purchased By An Obama Bundler In Shanghai, China With Questionable Business Ties to State-Run Chinese Enterprises: In 2008, Obama.com was purchased by an Obama fundraiser living in Shanghai, China, whose business is heavily dependent on relationships with Chinese state-run television and other state-owned entities.
68% Of Traffic To Anonymously Registered Obama.com Is Foreign: According to industry leading web analytics site Markosweb, an anonymously registered redirect site (Obama.com) features 68 % foreign traffic. Starting in December 2011, the site was linked to a specific donation page on the official BarackObama.com campaign website for ten months. The page loaded a tracking number, 634930, into a space on the website labeled “who encouraged you to make this donation.” That tracking number is embedded in the source code for Obama.com and is associated with the Obama Victory Fund. In early September 2012, the page began redirecting to the standard Obama Victory Fund donation page.
So as not to pick on Barack Obama, the group also found fault with Marco Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign and also nearly half of the Congressional campaigns which accept credit card donations. Among Maryland’s nine members of Congress running this cycle, Dutch Ruppersberger (2nd District), Donna Edwards (4th District), Steny Hoyer (5th District), and Elijah Cummings (7th District) do not use this protection.
But another problem GAI noticed was the lack of accountability in federal campaigns, where amounts under $200 need not be reported unless a campaign was audited; moreover, amounts under $50 aren’t even recorded. (This is why fundraising appeals from both sides often use tiny amounts, like $3 or $5. If Barack Obama can get a million people to enter a celebrity contest, that’s $3-$5 million he collects but doesn’t have to account for. And if it’s not accounted for, the money could come from anywhere.)
It’s worth pondering that Barack Obama gets a much more significant portion of his funding from small donations than Mitt Romney does. Certainly the vast percentage of those contributions are on the up-and-up, but what if even 20% of the $600 million Obama has collected in small donations came from foreign or fraudulent sources? Erick Erickson of RedState did just that as a test, and the Obama campaign failed.
Obviously this group, led by Hoover Institution Research Fellow and author Peter Schweizer, would tend to skew toward a conservative, good-government point of view, but they bring up a lot of valid points. They dug up several examples of Obama donations being promoted and encouraged on foreign websites in their report, which runs over 100 pages.
This story is attracting notice in a lot of conservative corners (like this piece at Breitbart.com), which could provide another plate for the mainstream media ignorance court jesters to keep spinning.