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Is The Obama Campaign Influenced By Foreign Donations?

There are certain issues that President Obama has consistently hammered on during his first four years in the White House. You can almost always count on him to beat the “the rich need to pay their fair share” drum at his campaign stops, or in his news conferences. Wait, never mind about the news conferences. He doesn’t hold those any more. Anyway, he has reminded us of the obligation the rich have to pay their fair share more than a few times. He has also lamented the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court, going so far as to blast Justices who handed down that ruling, while he had them captive at one of his State of the Union speeches. One of the reasons Obama seems to hate that ruling so much, at least according to him, is his fear that foreign money will find its way into our political campaigns and thus, influence our politicians and the decisions they make.

It seems he may have been a bit prophetic in that regard, except for one small detail. Although it has nothing to do with Citizens United, it seems clear some campaigns do receive donations from foreign sources. Because of the lack of certain security measures that would prevent that from happening, campaigns on both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of allowing foreign donations into their coffers. Among them is the reelection campaign of Barack Obama himself. As you will learn from reading the article I am linking to, this isn’t the first time Obama has been guilty of allowing an open door for campaign donations coming from foreign sources.

(Human Events) Credit cards include a security code, usually three digits in length, known as the Card Verification Value (CVV) code.  If you’ve purchased anything online, you have Obamaalmost certainly used this code – it’s the “number on the back of the card.”  These codes are regarded as a fairly effective anti-fraud measure, and are very widely used in electronic commerce – about 90 percent of online retail transactions require the buyer to enter their CVV code, and most charity organizations require it for credit card donations received by telephone or Internet.

The GAI discovered that 47.3 percent of congressional donation sites do not use the CVV code, or the other widespread security practice of checking the address provided by donors with the address on their credit card billing account.  It’s a problem with bipartisan dimensions, with one high-profile GOP example of unverified donations being the 2010 campaign website of Florida senator Marco Rubio.  (Rubio’s website has since implemented CVV verification for campaign donations.)

What makes this security lapse troubling is that it opens the door for illegal foreign campaign donations, made via credit card.  The absence of CVV and address verification protocols does not automatically prove the existence of a problem with such foreign donations, but it creates the potential for mischief, particularly when there is a great deal of foreign interest in a particular campaign.  Most campaign videos include a Web address for making donations – that’s one of the big reasons for distributing such videos.  When they receive wide distribution overseas, foreign donors flock to websites that don’t use verification systems to screen out illegal donations.

There is also the danger of automated systems making a high number of small individual “robo-donations” to pump big money into a campaign, in defiance of campaign finance regulations.  A system cranking out a tidal wave of donations of less than $50 apiece can largely escape scrutiny.

These verification systems are so widely used that their omission seems curious, to put it mildly.  This is particularly true in the case of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.  Questions were raised about the possibility of illegal foreign donations in Obama’s 2008 race, so it strains credulity to think his 2012 campaign operation was unaware of the problem.  (While the media paid very little attention to the story, it became unofficially known as the “Doodad Pro” scandal to conservative bloggers, after one of the crazy fake names invented by Obama’s tsunami of suspicious small donors.  “Doodad Pro” ended up making something like 800 individual donations to the Obama campaign.)

This is indeed, the smoke of a fire that needs to be further investigated. If there is nothing of questionable integrity to be found, then so be it, but where there is smoke, there is almost always a fire. But wait, there is more. Not only has the Obama campaign opened its website up to the possibility of foreign donations, there is also the question of where the Internet traffic that finds its way to the Obama campaign website is coming from.

I am sure many of us are familiar with the term “redirection”. I could, for instance, purchase the domain politicalrealities.com and have it redirected to ldjackson.net, or vice versa. Shall we take a look at how that is working out for the Obama campaign?

The other suspicious element of the Obama campaign finance picture is the existence of foreign “redirection sites” that route Internet traffic to Obama’s unsecured donation page.  One such site, Obama.com, has been “purchased by an Obama bundler in Shanghai, China with questionable business ties to state-run Chinese enterprises,” according to the GAI report.  Fully 68 percent of the traffic to Obama.com is of foreign origin.

An entire section of the full GAI report is dedicated to unraveling the mystery of this redirection site.  “The fact that Obama.com is not owned or managed by the Obama campaign is a mystery,” muses the GAI.  “Obama for America owns 392 different domain names bearing either the President’s name or the name of campaign initiatives.  It seems logical that Obama.com would be sought after by the campaign.”

But instead, it found its way into the hands of Robert Roche, an Illinois native who lives in Shanghai, and has developed strong commercial ties with the Communist Chinese government.  He still gets back to the United States often enough to have made nineteen visits to the White House since 2009, including a personal meeting with the President, and several meetings with the White House Chief of Staff.  When Chinese president Hu Jintao was honored with a White House dinner, Roche got to sit at the table with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Senator and onetime Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry, and former President Jimmy Carter.  The only other business executives sitting at the same table were General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent.

It’s not clear if Roche still controls Obama.com, since he sold the domain to anonymous buyers in 2010.  But there’s no mistaking the web of foreign links leading overseas visitors to Obama.com… and from there to Barack Obama’s unverified campaign contributions page, where donations can be made without the security that the very same web site applies to the purchase of coffee mugs.  The GAI relays numerous accounts of foreign nationals receiving fundraising letters from the Obama campaign.  Sometimes they repost the letters, complete with links pointing to that wide-open donation page, on their own blogs.

According to campaign finance reports, the Obama campaign reported a record intake of $181 million in September alone. They have even went so far as to brag about how many of the donations that made up that amount were small and hard to track. While this is not proof that the Obama campaign is actually accepting campaign donations from foreign sources, it does raise a lot of questions. The first one I would ask is why they take the security of their campaign fundraising less seriously than does websites such as Amazon or eBay? Coming from a President who claimed his administration would be the most transparent presidency in modern history, this seems more like a slap in the face to the American people than anything else.

Sadly, this story may never see the light of day in the mainstream media. A quick perusing of the websites of the major media outlets, including Fox News, found nary a word about this story. Were this any other President besides Barack Obama, I believe it is safe to say this would be the top story in the news. Instead, it is left to bloggers to tell the story and ask the questions the reporters seem hesitant to ask.

Other bloggers talking about this include the following blogs.

Conservative Hideout

America’s Watchtower

Maggie’s Notebook

Conservative Commune

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 1994 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

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  • http://www.backyardfence.wordpress.com Gail Spurlock

    All of this was going on in 2008. If anything it was worse. It was all over the right-wing blogosphere, but none of the conservative media would touch it. I still have links and text copied from bloggers who donated $5.00 to Obama’s campaign from UK and Australia and tried to donate to McCain, but were stopped by the credit card security. How do you think Obama got twice as much money as McCain?

    Obama outspent him 2:1 and only beat him by a few percentage points. Please think about it. Obama is the first President elected for the U.S. by foreign nations via their wallets. He is a traitor in no uncertain terms, but he really does think it’s for our own good. . .no one would want to kill us if we would just get with the socialist/islamic programs and we would be safe! We would be poor, oppressed and miserable, like everyone else, but it would be in our best interests.

    Best regards,
    Gail

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      Thanks for commenting, Gail. I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

      For the life of me, I can not figure out why even the conservative media seems so hesitant to take on this story. Are they afraid of the accusations that would surely come their way, if they were to do so? I would love to know just how much influence these kinds of donations really had in 2008 and how much they are having in 2012. To be sure, this is not the way our campaigns should be financed.

  • http://westernhero.blogspot.com Silverfiddle

    Too bad 90% of the press is studiously uninterested in this…

    A nation can survive rotten politicians if it has a good press, but rotten politicians and a rotten press are hard to overcome.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      I saw a picture today that described this very well. Three chimps were sitting in a row, each with a sign that read Fox, MSNBC, and CNN, respectively. One chimp had his hands over his ears, one had them over his eyes, and the other had them over his mouth. With a media that fits that description to a tee, we are fighting an uphill battle.

  • http://conservativesonfire.wordpress.com Jim at Conservatives on Fire

    I couldn’t say it any better than Kurt, did. We should understand that many of the things Obama opposes is only when they are done by Republicans.

  • http://www.stevenbirnspeaks.com Steven Birn

    In 2008 the press loved to brag about all the small donations Obama got from poor people and grandma’s. He’s apparently picking up the same small donations now, all of a sudden, but the media is completely uninterested. I wonder why.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      Makes me wonder which country those poor people and grandmas are living in.

  • http://Www.bunkerville.wordpress.com Bunkerville

    I am sure it is bush’s fault.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      No doubt it is.

  • Steve Dennis

    Thanks for the link Larry. This is very suspicious indeed and it needs to be investigated, but at this point I think it is too late in the campaign season to investigate it and make him turn over illegal donations before the election. He did this in 2008 and now he is doing it again and I think this shows us exactly how he feels about the rules. He thinks they apply to everyone but him.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      You’re welcome, Steve. It is too late in the campaign season to make him give the money back, but it still needs to be investigated. I am sick of seeing him get away with things like this. I would say these scandals are running off his back like water on a duck, but it’s beyond even that. The media is standing over him with an umbrella to make sure the stories never even get close to his back.

  • Harrison

    Larry, what is most disturbing is how long this information has been known and not just to JournoLists.

    Check this 2008 story out:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/28/AR2008102803413.html?sub=AR

    Pretty much lays it all out… 4 years ago…

    Pretty much nobody investigated it and nobody knew about it who hadn’t read that story.

    Disgusting.

    • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

      Good points, Harrison. I can not understand why this story has not at least given Obama a severe sunburn. Any other President would have 1st degree burns from the heat that would result.

      • http://capitolcommentary.com Harrison

        This story “broke” 4 years ago!

  • Mike

    I agree this is wrong and should be checked out but to suggest this somehow leads to foreign influence in policy decision-making is an enormous reach. There were no bigger contributors to the Obama campaign in 2008 than Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street bigwigs and to say Obama didn’t serve their wishes is rather an understatement. The flip in Wall Street contributions away from Obama this year is pretty clear evidence that money doesn’t in fact buy policymaking influence in the Obama administration.