Record amounts of money from abroad are flowing into Barack Obama’s presidential campaign — and there is no easy way to determine if foreigners are making illegal donations.
Through June, Democrat Obama received $2.8 million in donations from foreign sources, according to federal election records obtained by The Hill newspaper.
That dwarfs the $381,809 that Republican rival John McCain received from abroad. It is also more than President Bush and John Kerry combined received in the 2004 presidential campaign. Bush took in $747,857 from foreign sources; Kerry got $550,834.
According to federal laws, contributors to federal, state and local elections must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with green cards.
But with many Americans living overseas and contributing to campaigns, making sure the donations are legal can be difficult. Foreigners often can get away with contributing to a campaign if they are willing to make false statements about their status.
“If a contributor lies to campaigns, that’s outside the control of the campaign,” Jan Baran, an elections and ethics lawyer with the firm Wiley Rein, told The Hill.
And Larry Noble, a former Federal Election Commission general counsel, said the ability to donate money via the Internet “has raised the ease with which someone could make a foreign national contribution.”
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