The Federal Election Commission is not likely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of Barack Obama’s record-breaking fundraising campaign despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting.
That’s the disclosure from Politico.com, which reports that Obama will probably escape scrutiny in large part because unlike John McCain, he declined to accept $84 million in public financing.
Accepting that money automatically triggers an audit, meaning that the FEC is obligated to thoroughly audit the McCain campaign’s coffers, which will take months and cost McCain millions to defend.
Another factor that will discourage an Obama audit by the FEC is the sheer size of his fundraising haul — more than $650 million — which minimizes the significance of any errors.
“If a House campaign makes a $100,000 error, that’s huge and they’re likely to get audited,” David Mason, a former GOP appointee to the FEC, told Politico.
“If a campaign the size of the Obama campaign has a $100,000 error, then maybe not.”
Another factor: The FEC is comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans, and “is prone to deadlock on partisan issues,” such as “approving a messy and high-profile probe of a sitting president,” the Web site observed.
Nevertheless, over the course of the campaign FEC analysts have written more than a dozen letters to Obama citing hundreds of cases in which the campaign did not supply adequate information regarding contributors or accepted donations exceeding the legal limit.
“The media — first conservative outlets then mainstream publications — seized on the FEC letters to Obama, singling out donations from apparently fictitious donors as well as from foreign addresses,” Politico reported.
One of the first to focus on the Obama campaign’s questionable fundraising tactics was Newsmax correspondent Kenneth R. Timmerman.
As long ago as Sept. 29, Timmerman first disclosed that more than half of the $426.9 million Obama had raised at that point came from small donors whose names the Obama campaign would not disclose — making it impossible to verify that donors were not surpassing the $2,300 an individual can contribute to a candidate for the general election.
The Federal Election Commission cited a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as “Will, Good” from Austin, Tex., and a Newsmax analysis of the master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, totaling $17,375.
Timmerman also disclosed at the time that the FEC compiled a database of potentially questionable overseas donations totaling $3.38 million. The funds came from such places as Abu Dhabi, Beijing, and Ethiopia.
Timmerman published a new report on Oct. 8, disclosing that an investigation of Obama’s campaign finance reports turned up more than 2,000 cases in which individuals made donations far above the legal limit of $2,300 per election.
He followed up with a new report on Oct. 19, disclosing that more than 37,000 Obama donations appeared to be conversions of foreign currency, totaling as much as $63 million.
On Oct. 21, Timmerman revealed among other things that the Obama campaign had accepted contributions from donors identifying themselves as King Kong, Daffy Duck, and Bart Simpson — without any apparent effort by the campaign to screen them out as suspect donors.
Then on Oct. 29, Timmerman reported: “A Newsmax investigation of Obama/Biden campaign contributors, undertaken in conjunction with a private investigative firm headed by a former CIA operations officer, has identified 118 donors who appear to lack U.S. citizenship.”
According to Politico, FEC spokeswoman Mary Brandenberger declined to comment on the likelihood of an Obama audit.
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