Yes, there is a law against political campaigns in the U.S. soliciting or accepting donations from citizens of other nations. Even Citizens United did not open that as option. But, it’s a distinct possibility that the Obama campaign has been doing just that, under the radar with small donations.
This morning on Fox News, it was pointed out that there have been some “irregularities” on the Obama campaign website, when it comes to donations. The law states that donations of $200 or greater must be reported. But, the Obama camp is relying heavily on small dollar donations, and according to web-tracking, some of them could be coming from other countries, including Persian Gulf States and China. Additionally, the website does not ask for the security code on the back of individuals’ credit cards, increasing the probability that there are fraudulent donations made with stolen card numbers.
Of course, this is not new for the Obama campaign – it could be argued at this point that it is an actual strategy on their part. The Daily Beast reported almost exactly four years ago on this same issue with the Obama camp. Then, it was a matter of anonymous donors using apparently fake names and addresses to make multiple small donations. It was caught on the radar that time, because the sum total donations from certain individuals far exceeded the $200 ceiling, and for that matter, the $5000 personal limit. That time, it included two Palestinians in Gaza – the excuse then was that the Obama camp had assumed “Ga” meant Georgia. Since that involved purchasing campaign shirts, the excuse falls a little flat, assuming that the shirts actually made it to Gaza.
This campaign cycle, Obama supporters are regularly hit with emails requesting small dollar donations – $5 is a typical request, while they do occasionally ask for amounts like $14 or $20. It will undoubtedly be argued ad nauseum that this tactic tips the fundraising scales unfairly in Obama’s favor, and is hated by big dollar donors to the SuperPAC’s. But, the legality of the situation needs to be addressed as well. And there is no excuse, period.
The technology is available to prevent foreign small dollar donations to any campaign soliciting money online. Doubt that? Try visiting the British site for BBC, and try viewing their programming. You will be met with a notice stating that the media in question is unavailable to you. Their system recognizes if someone is attempting to access their content from a foreign nation. Could it be hacked? Probably. However, failing to use such a security feature implies that the Obama campaign honestly doesn’t care about even attempting to abide by campaign funding law. Of course, it could also be argued that they don’t care about their donors either, since they have failed to use the online purchasing security options suggested by card-issuers. “It’s all about the money.”