Web contributions require new laws
While the mainstream press continues to ignore the audacious decision by the Obama campaign to allow false names and addresses to be submitted with web credit card donations, the San Antonio Express has chimed in with a fair and balanced editorial.
…But the amounts are now so large and the contributions so numerous that even campaigns committed to abiding by finance laws are hard pressed to do so. Anyone intent on circumventing the law can — at least for a while — do so successfully.The game changer has been the Internet. The revolution in Internet fundraising makes it easier for more people to contribute. The historic number of small donors who have given to Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008 reflects this fact.
Obama, in particular, has capitalized on a huge network of online donors, according to media reports.
The Internet also makes it easier for people to game campaign finance regulations. Federal law requires the disclosure of donor information for contributions in excess of $200, capped at $2,300 per candidate for the primary and general election. But if you can make a series of smaller donations under false names, you could potentially donate an unlimited amount and avoid scrutiny.
About half of Obama’s more than $600 million in contributions are less than $200 and do not have to be identified under the law, the Associated Press reported. McCain’s Web site is listing all contributors, including those who gave less than $200, the wire service noted.
There is much that is unprecedented here. According to the AP, $300 Million of the money Obama has raised does not need to be disclosed to the public because these donations fall under the $200 threshold. The Obama campaign refuses to disclose this list (unlike the McCain and Clinton campaigns which have offered full disclosure on below $200 donors). And, from what we know, Obama is also the first and only Presidential candidate to turn off fraud checks on his website, thereby creating all sorts of loopholes for campaign finance fraud. While Obama may be techically obeying the letter of the law, he is certainly violating the spirit of the law. Why???