Tuesday, September 30, 2008

$426.9 million – That’s the amount of money Barack Obama has raised for his campaign – so far

$426.9 million – That’s the amount of money Barack Obama has raised for his campaign – so far; a whopping sum of money indeed. But the questions are, who contributed this money and where does the money come from?

After searching around, here are some things I found; an article by Ken Timmerman in Newsmax has a lot of information about Obama's financing.

First it should be noted that Federal law does not require campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 during the election cycle. However, it does require that campaigns calculate running totals for each donor and report them once they go beyond the $200 mark. Not surprisingly, the great majority of Obama donors never exceed the $200 threshold. An FEC breakdown of the Obama campaign reveals $222.7 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less. Only $39.6 million of that amount comes from donors the Obama campaign has identified.

Of the many, many contributions in the under $200 category, some are like this, and these are likely only the tip of the iceberg:

There are a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as “Will, Good” from Austin, Texas. Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.” – “A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25. In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375.”

One donor identified as “Pro, Doodad,” from “Nando, NY,” gave $19,500 in 786 separate donations, most of them for $25. For most of these donations, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You,” just as Mr. Good Will had done. But according to Newsmax; “in some of them, he didn’t even go this far, apparently picking letters at random to fill in the blanks on credit card donation form. In these cases, he said he was employed by “VCX” and that his profession was “VCVC.’”

In foreign donations Obama struck campaign gold; at least the ones we know about.

The FEC has compiled a separate database of potentially questionable overseas donations to Obama that contains more than 11,500 contributions totaling $33.8 million. More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran. Another 63 listed it as “UK,” the United Kingdom. Some came from places such as Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Fallujah, Florence, Italy, and a wide selection of towns and cities in France. For a while, but no longer, the Obama Web site allowed a contributor to select the country where he resided from the entire membership of the United Nations, including such places as North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Reports are that “unlike McCain’s or Sen. Hillary Clinton’s online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until just recently. Clinton’s presidential campaign required U.S. citizens living abroad to actually fax a copy of their passport before a donation would be accepted.”

We are all familiar with fund raising rallies but did you know that this summer the man in charge of Nigeria’s stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, which included local Nigerian business owners. Price of attendance was not cheap; a table for eight at one fundraising dinner went for $16,800. The Nigerian press reported sponsors collected an estimated $900,000.

Not long ago Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi spoke in praise of Obama, and said that foreign nationals were donating to his campaign.

“All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man,” the Libyan leader said. “They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency..."

U.S. federal law bans any foreigner from donating to a U.S. election campaign.

Newsmax uncovered an unusual fund raising gimmick; sale of Obama campaign goodies. One practice that might not appear obvious at first is the sale of “campaign paraphernalia such as T-shirts or bumper stickers to foreigners through the Obama online store.” Timmerman says blogger Pamela Geller, who runs the blog Atlas Shrugs, discovered what Glenn Simpson of The Wall Street Journal reported first, that donors from the Gaza Strip had given more than $33,000 to the Obama campaign, through bulk purchases of T-shirts they had shipped to Gaza.

The online campaign store allows buyers to complete their purchases by making an additional donation to the Obama campaign. According to FEC records a pair of Palestinian brothers named Hosam and Monir Edwan contributed more than $31,300 to the Obama campaign. The Edwan brothers listed their address as “GA,” as in Georgia, although they entered “Gaza” or “Rafah Refugee camp” as their city of residence on most of the online contribution forms. According to Newsmax, “Many of the Edwan brothers’ contributions have been purged from the FEC database, but they still can be found in archived versions available for CRP and other watchdog groups” (Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Many Obama donors never appear in the Obama campaign reports which the CRP estimates at nearly half the $426.8 million the Obama campaign has raised to date. Many of these small donors participate in online “matching” programs. This program allows donors to connect with other Obama supporters and eventually share e-mail addresses and blogs. The Obama Web site says the matching contribution program is similar to a “public radio fundraising drive.”

“Our goal is to bring 50,000 new donors into our movement by Friday at midnight,” campaign manager David Plouffe e-mailed supporters on September 15th. “And if you make your first online donation today, your gift will go twice as far. A previous donor has promised to match every dollar you donate.”

Campaign spokesman for Obama, LaBolt, said, “We have more than 2.5 million donors overall, hundreds of thousands of which have participated in this program.” The names of these donors and where they live remain anonymous and the FEC has no way to find out.

Although reports with information like this occasionally come to light; it would be really interesting to know the amount of money contributed to Obama by the likes of George Soros, directly through his various vehicles, and indirectly through other nefarious and illegal means.

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