It has been reported that the Obama campaign this year, as in 2008, has disabled or chosen not to use AVS in screening contributions made by credit card.
That doesn’t sound very important. But it’s evidence of a modus operandi that strikes me as thuggish.
AVS stands for Address Verification System. It’s the software that checks whether the name of the cardholder matches his or her address.
If a campaign doesn’t use AVS, it can wind up accepting contributions from phony names or accepting contributions from foreigners, both of which are illegal.
The 2008 Obama campaign pocketed money from “John Galt, 1957 Ayn Rand Lane, Galts Gulch CO 99999” and $174,000 from a woman in Missouri who told reporters she had given nothing and had never been billed. Presumably she would have noticed an extra charge of $174,000.
The Obama campaign is evidently happy to pocket the money. After all, this is the president who, according to political scientist Brendan Doherty, has appeared at more fundraisers in three and a half years than his six predecessors did in 35 years.
Obama has been to at least two fundraisers just in my apartment building. I often see police and Secret Service blocking traffic for a block around Washington’s posh Jefferson Hotel at 16th and M Streets.
Obama talks a good game on transparency and openness, but he’s ready to flout the law by avoiding AVS and to break his high-minded campaign promises.
In the 2008 campaign cycle, he promised to take public financing for the general election. He broke that promise when it became apparent that he could raise far more money on his own.
During much of this cycle, he’s been criticizing Republican super PACs as a perversion of the political process. But when he saw that Republicans might be able to raise as much money as Democrats, he broke that promise too and authorized cabinet members to appear at fundraisers for the super PAC headed by his former deputy press secretary.
Democrats outraised Republicans in 2004 and 2008. Evidently, Obama considers it grossly unfair that they might not do so this year. That’s not how things work in Chicago.
The “campaigner in chief,” as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank dubbed him yesterday, also has a nasty habit of denouncing Republican and conservative contributors by name. He’s followed lefty bloggers in trying to demonize the Koch brothers.
This, coupled with a propensity to make jokes about siccing the Internal Revenue Service on people, looks like an attempt to chill opposition political speech. Especially when there are reports that tea-party organizations are getting hassled by the IRS.
Obama also indulges often in reckless political rhetoric. He likes to say that Republicans want no regulations at all on financial institutions and businesses.