Obama Campaign Takes in Foreign, Excessive Donations, RNC Complaint Alleges
October 6, 2008 - 8:48 PMBarack Obama's fundraising has been fueled by contributions in excess of the legal limit and from foreign nationals, alleges a campaign finance complaint by the Republican National Committee.
The RNC filed the 49-page complaint Monday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in light of reports of questionable contributions coming into Obama’s campaign.
The complaint says Obama has received 11,500 questionable contributions from foreign nationals, totaling about $33.8 million. It is illegal for foreign nationals to donate to U.S. political campaigns.
The complaint further says that Obama has raised untold amounts from people giving more than the $2,300 contribution limit because these contributors – some with listed names such as “Good Will” and “Doodad Pro” – have given in increments of less than $200, which does not have to be itemized on candidate FEC filings.
These small increments allowed some donors to circumvent the legal contribution limit, the RNC says.
The complaint asks the FEC to do a full audit of all contributions that have come into the Obama for America, the campaign committee for the Democratic presidential candidate and Illinois senator.
“We believe Obama for America has knowingly accepted excessive contributions and donations from foreign nationals, and has failed to take necessary remedial action required by law,” said RNC Chief Counsel Sean Cairncross in a statement released Monday.
The Obama campaign did not respond to inquiries for this story Monday.
“We see this as a wide-scale problem and it appears the Obama campaign may be in substantial noncompliance with federal campaign finance laws,” Cairncross continued.
“Barack Obama broke his word to the American people and refused to accept public financing, and now his campaign appears to be disregarding the rules and laws that govern federal campaigns,” he added.
The Obama campaign has raised about $468 million, nearly half of which has come from small donations of less than $200.
The information in the complaint cited some FEC disclosure reports, but was heavily reliant on media reports, namely from magazines Newsweek and Newsmax, each of which recently published articles on Obama’s fundraising.
The complaint references “pro-Obama fundraisers” in Nigeria in July and August. The sponsors of these Nigerian events said they were held to raise money to help Nigerians travel to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
However, the Nigerian government “was so skeptical of this claim that it is now investigating the matter,” the RNC complaint says.
In late August, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission confiscated $630,000 from the “Obama for Africa” campaign, a controversial group led by Ndi Okerke-Onyuike, director general of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The complaint to the FEC says that Lybian leader Moammar Gadhafi publicly stated that the foreign nationals may have given money to Obama’s campaign.
The Obama for America committee has refunded about $33,000 in funds flagged by the FEC from foreign nationals who bought Obama material, such as hats and t-shirts from the Obama on-line store.
As for the excessive contributions, the complaint says that Newsweek found that some contributors had fictitious addresses as well. For example, “Good Will” listed the address of Goodwill Industries in Austin, Texas as the Will’s address. “Doodad Pro,” meanwhile, listed no address.
“Presumably, most of the excessive contributions should have been knowingly accepted because they were disclosed on the FEC reports,” the RNC complaint says. “It appears, however, that OFA (Obama for America) did not take remedial action until the FEC pointed out the excessive contributions.”
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told Newsweek, “While no organization is completely protected from Internet fraud, we will continue to review our fundraising procedures.”