Obama's failure to manage his campaign finance

Scott Johnson:

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No presidential campaign has ever before received such a gargantuan sum of money from unidentified contributors.

The campaign's records reveal big contributors with names like "Doodad Pro" (employer: "Loving," profession: "You") and "Good Will" (same employer and profession). Both donated via credit card. Other reports have suggested that some donations come from overseas - raising the question of whether Obama is accepting donations from foreigners, another violation of federal law.

All of which prompted an enterprising citizen to test the controls put in place to enforce compliance with federal campaign law by the Obama and McCain campaigns. Last Thursday, he decided to conduct an experiment.

He went to the Obama campaign Web site and made a donation under the name "John Galt" (the hero of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged"). He provided the equally fictitious address "1957 Ayn Rand Lane, Galts Gulch, CO 99999."

He checked the box next to $15 and entered his actual credit-card number and expiration date. He was then taken to the next page and notified that his donation had been processed.

He then tried the same experiment on the McCain site, which rejected the transaction. He returned to the Obama site and made three more donations using the names Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Bill Ayers, all with different addresses but the same credit card. The transactions all went through. By Saturday, he'd reported that the transactions had all posted to his credit-card account.

Others repeated "John Galt's" experiment last week, giving to Obama under such fictitious names as Della Ware, Joe Plumber, Idiot Savant, Ima BadDonation (with a Canadian bank card) and Fake Donor.

What accounts for the Obama campaign's acceptance of these fraudulent donations? Most merchants selling goods and services use the basic Address Verification System that screens credit-card charges for matching names and addresses. (It can also screen cards issued by foreign banks.) The McCain campaign uses AVS and provides a searchable database of all donors, including those who fall below the $200 threshold. The Obama campaign apparently has chosen not to use the AVS system to screen donations.

"Della Ware" contacted The New York Times to report her experience contributing under a fictitious name and address ("12345 No Way") to the Obama campaign, while her contribution was rejected by the McCain campaign. Times reporter Michael Luo verified "Della Ware's" account and reported it online at the Times' campaign blog. But Luo missed the story's point.

"To be fair to the Obama campaign," he wrote, its "officials have said much of their checking for fraud occurs after the transactions have already occurred. When they find something wrong, they then refund the amount."

But the Obama campaign is running a system that complicates the discovery of "something wrong." It has chosen to operate an online contribution system that facilitates illegal falsely sourced contributions, illegal foreign contributions and the evasion of contribution limits.

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Why has the Obama campaign chosen to operate without the basic automated credit-card controls that would prevent or hamper fraud and illegal contributions? Has it made a conscious decision to assist the evasion of federal campaign law or worry about it after it has had the use of the money?

It's hard to see any other motive.


Obama has given as his executive experience the running of his campaign for President. As an executive he has not been able to get his campaign to do the basics. He is either grossly incompetent of he is grossly dishonest. There is no reasonable explanation for the failure to do such basic checks on the source of his funding.

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