Tags: obama | fundraising | donors

Obama Uses Loophole for Small Donors

Thursday, 09 Oct 2008 11:28 AM

By Jim Meyers


Revelations about Barack Obama’s fundraising by Newsmax and other media outlets are exposing a troubling loophole in a law governing campaign contributions.

The 1970s law dictates that donors who contribute $200 or less to a candidate do not have to disclose their identities. Therefore a single donor who makes such a donation multiple times could surpass the $2,300 limit on contributions to a campaign in the general election and the $2,300 limit for the primaries, and escape scrutiny by the campaign.

Obama has revolutionized fundraising by using the Internet to tap into more donors than any candidate in history — more than 2.5 million. His campaign reported $160 million in contributions from donors of $200 or less, more than a third of the $458 million he has raised, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Back when the law was written “no one conceived that a candidate could raise million” in such small amounts, Lawrence Norton, a former Federal Election Commission general counsel, told the Times.

“It certainly is a case where the 1970s law is not in step with current campaign fundraising practices.”

The Times found that more than 20,000 donors have given at least 10 times.

The Republican National Committee last week filed a federal complaint charging that some of Obama’s small donations are illegal because they exceed the limit or come from foreign nationals.

The complaint cited a Sept. 29 report by Newsmax correspondent Kenneth R. Timmerman that first raised questions about Obama’s fundraising. He asserted that more than half of the money raised by Obama “has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won’t disclose.”

[Read “Secret, Foreign Money Floods Into Obama Campaign” — Go Here Now].

The New York Times reported on Monday that the questionable donations issue “is being seized upon by the Republicans against the Obama campaign after an article this month on the conservative Web site Newsmax.com highlighted some obviously questionable contributions Mr. Obama had received that far exceeded the $4,600 an individual can contribute.”

A new Timmerman report published on Wednesday discloses that “a Newsmax investigation of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign finance reports has turned up more than 2,000 cases in which individuals have made donations far above the legal limit of $2,300 per election. Such donations, if not returned within 60 days, violate federal campaign finance laws.”

Timmerman cites a number of examples, including “James Sievers of Big Sky, Mont., [who] gave a total of $20,700 to the campaign in five donations between March and June of this year. “The campaign has returned close to $7,000 of the money but has kept the rest.”

[Read “Secret, Foreign Money Floods Into Obama Campaign” — Go Here Now].


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