The Corner

Obama’s Funny Money, or Who’s “Loving” “You,” Barry?

Mr. “Good Will,” apparently.

My pal Diana West points me to Ken Timmerman’s must-read Newsmax column — which naturally is getting no coverage in the MSM — about Sen. Obama’s eye-popping fundraising operation. Bottom line:  the would-be President of the World is raising goo-gobs of money from foreigners outside the United States (a violation of federal law), and matching goo-gobs of money inside the United States from phantoms who are blowing out the individual contribution limits by, among other devices, making up identies and breaking up contributions in amounts less than $200, for which reporting requirements are less rigorous.

According to Ken, the Obama campaign has raised nearly half a billion dollars ($429.6M) but refuses to provide the names of most of the donors. Election law requires the campaign to track this information but not for it to disclose the names of those who donate less than $200, which is most Obama donors. (Sen. McCain discloses the names of all donors.)  The Obama campaign has raised millions upon millions of dollars from outside the United States. Only Americans living overseas may lawfully contribute, but because the Obama vetting machinery is negligent (or worse), the probability is that enormous sums are coming from foreigners. The campaign knows the FEC is a lethargic agency and won’t have a full accounting until perhaps years after the election.

This typifies the domestic fundraising issue: 

In a letter dated June 25, 2008, the FEC asked the Obama campaign to verify a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as “Will, Good” from Austin, Texas. Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.”

A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25. In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375.

Following this and subsequent FEC requests, campaign records show that 330 contributions from Mr. Good Will were credited back to a credit card. But the most recent report, filed on Sept. 20, showed a net cumulative balance of $8,950 — still well over the $4,600 limit.

There can be no doubt that the Obama campaign noticed these contributions, since Obama’s Sept. 20 report specified that Good Will’s cumulative contributions since the beginning of the campaign were $9,375.

In an e-mailed response to a query from Newsmax, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pledged that the campaign would return the donations. But given the slowness with which the campaign has responded to earlier FEC queries, there’s no guarantee that the money will be returned before the Nov. 4 election.

Similarly, a donor identified as “Pro, Doodad,” from “Nando, NY,” gave $19,500 in 786 separate donations, most of them for $25. For most of these donations, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You,” just as Good Will had done.  But in some of them, he didn’t even go this far, apparently picking letters at random to fill in the blanks on the credit card donation form. In these cases, he said he was employed by “VCX” and that his profession was “VCVC.”

Following FEC requests, the Obama campaign began refunding money to Doodad Pro in February 2008. In all, about $8,425 was charged back to a credit card. But that still left a net total of $11,165 as of Sept. 20, way over the individual limit of $4,600. Here again, LaBolt pledged that the contributions would be returned but gave no date.

In February, after just 93 donations, Doodad Pro had already gone over the $2,300 limit for the primary. He was over the $4,600 limit for the general election one month later. In response to FEC complaints, the Obama campaign began refunding money to Doodad Pro even before he reached these limits. But his credit card was the gift that kept on giving. His most recent un-refunded contributions were on July 7, when he made 14 separate donations, apparently by credit card, of $25 each.

Just as with Mr. Good Will, there can be no doubt that the Obama campaign noticed the contributions, since its Sept. 20 report specified that Doodad’s cumulative contributions since the beginning of the campaign were $10,965.

Bear in mind that we only know about Messrs. “Good Will” and “Doodad Pro” because someone detected that they went over $200 in aggregate contributions.  If more clever Obama supporters have given thousands of dollars to Obama by structuring it in a variety of different phony names and amounts under $200, we might not learn about that for years … if ever.

And then there is the foreign money.  A sampling from Ken — though all of it should be read (italics are mine):

The FEC has compiled a separate database of potentially questionable overseas donations that contains more than 11,500 contributions totaling $33.8 million. More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran. Another 63 listed it as “UK,” the United Kingdom.

More than 1,400 of the overseas entries clearly were U.S. diplomats or military personnel, who gave an APO address overseas. Their total contributions came to just $201,680. But others came from places as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Fallujah, Florence, Italy, and a wide selection of towns and cities in France.

Until recently, the Obama Web site allowed a contributor to select the country where he resided from the entire membership of the United Nations, including such friendly places as North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unlike McCain’s or Sen. Hillary Clinton’s online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until just recently….

In July and August, the head of the Nigeria’s stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. The events attracted local Nigerian business owners. At one event, a table for eight at one fundraising dinner went for $16,800. Nigerian press reports claimed sponsors raked in an estimated $900,000. The sponsors said the fundraisers were held to help Nigerians attend the Democratic convention in Denver. But the Nigerian press expressed skepticism of that claim, and the Nigerian public anti-fraud commission is now investigating the matter. In June, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave a public speech praising Obama, claiming foreign nationals were donating to his campaign. “All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man,” the Libyan leader said. “They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency…”

[O]n July 31 that donors from the Gaza strip had contributed $33,000 to the Obama campaign through bulk purchases of T-shirts they had shipped to Gaza….  A pair of Palestinian brothers named Hosam and Monir Edwan contributed more than $31,300 to the Obama campaign in October and November 2007, FEC records show. Their largesse attracted the attention of the FEC almost immediately. In an April 15, 2008, report that examined the Obama campaign’s year-end figures for 2007, the FEC asked that some of these contributions be reassigned. The Obama camp complied sluggishly, prompting a more detailed admonishment form the FEC on July 30. The Edwan brothers listed their address as “GA,” as in Georgia, although they entered “Gaza” or “Rafah Refugee camp” as their city of residence on most of the online contribution forms…. The latest Obama campaign filing shows that $891.11 still has not been refunded to the Edwan brothers, despite repeated FEC warnings and campaign claims that all the money was refunded in December.

A Newsmax review of the Obama campaign finance filings found that the FEC had asked for the redesignation or refund of 53,828 donations, totaling just under $30 million.

But none involves the donors who never appear in the Obama campaign reports, which the [Center for Responsive Politics] estimates at nearly half the $426.8 million the Obama campaign has raised to date.

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