In his report on fraudulent and foreign donations to American politicians, chief among them Barack Obama, Peter Schweizer raises the mysterious case of Robert Roche, an Obama bundler, who, for some time, owned the website Obama.com. That site redirects its traffic, 68 percent of which comes from foreign sources, to the official Obama campaign website. The Schweizer report notes:
By October 2, 2008, Obama.com began redirecting all visitors to specific content on my.barackobama.com. Upon arrival to my.barackobama.com, visitors were asked for their name, email, and zip code and presumably were sent solicitation letters, like every other visitor who provides that information to the campaign.
Following President Obama’s campaign victory in November 2008, Obama.com redirected visitors to a page selling inauguration merchandise and taking donations for the inauguration celebration. Throughout 2009, the website redirected to pages on the campaign website advocating various presidential initiatives. Starting in late January 2010, Obama.com redirected to a page gathering email addresses and continued to do so through 2011. Sometime during 2012, the webpage began sending visitors to a donation page on the Obama campaign’s website.
Roche is an American now based in Shanghai, China. His infomercial production company, Acorn International, is the largest TV direct sales operator in China and is closely tied to the Chinese government. Acorn’s prospectus notes that it “operate[s] direct sales and advertising businesses in China under a legal regime consisting of the State Council, which is the highest authority of the executive branch of the PRC central government…”
Roche also happens to be an enormous donor to Democratic causes. In 2012 alone, he has given over $130,000 to Democrat-affiliated organizations. Those donations and some from previous election cycles are listed below. The full list of Roche’s donations in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles is available at OpenSecret.org:
Roche’s generosity hasn’t gone unnoticed by the White House. As the Schweizer report notes, Roche was an honored guest at the 2011 State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao. He was seated at the head table, while guests including Henry Kissinger, Tim Geithner, Ambassador to China Gary Locke, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Disney CEO Robert Iger and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were relegated to the nosebleeds. Roche, to the left of Hillary Clinton, is pictured below.
What Roche did to deserve such an honor remains unclear. Schweizer calls the seating arrangement “puzzling.”