Politics

Priebus asks for FBI investigation of Obama’s online donations

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The Republican National Committee is spotlighting campaign-season worries that Team Obama is in covertly violating campaign laws by accepting online donations from foreigners.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced today he’s asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the president’s fund-raising system.

“The President’s campaign committee does not use the industry standard practices to guard against receiving fraudulent or excessive contributions via the internet… I therefore call on the Department of Justice to investigate this troubling pattern of behavior by the President’s campaign,’ said Priebus in a Oct. 11 letter to Holder.

The request follows an investigation by the Government Accountability Institute, which highlighted the campaign’s low-grade anti-fraud measures, the large amount of online traffic between the campaign’s fundraising pages and overseas Internet users, plus foreigners’ claims they had donated to the campaign.

“This new report suggests that the President’s campaign did not take the appropriate measures to correct for the vulnerabilities uncovered during the previous election cycle, in which reports surfaced that the president’s campaign accepted a large number of excessive contributions and contributions from donors using fake names, suggesting a pattern of questionable behavior that is troubling,” Priebus wrote to Holder.

In response, the Obama campaign has said they ask overseas donors to prove their eligibility to donate, and they conduct manual checks of potential ineligible donors.

Few Republicans think Holder will launch an investigation, but the request may spur coverage by the established media of the fund-raising concerns, which appear to be a repeat of Obama’s fund-raising practices in 2008.

In 2008, Obama’s campaign declined to use commonplace online anti-fraud services, received donations from foreigners and accepted donations from unidentifiable sources.

The campaign also received numerous small donations from a few sources with strange names — such as “Doodad Pro” — that appeared to be automated “robo-donors.”

However, Obama’s 2008 fund-raising system was never investigated by the Federal Election Commission or any other government agency, partly because it did not accept federal campaign funds.

There was scant media coverage of the documented 2008 problems.

In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton’s campaign was hit by a scandal caused by illegal donations from Chinese nationals. The resulting FBI investigations led to the conviction of 22 people. Others fled before they could be arrested.

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