Report: Members of Congress, especially Rubio, vulnerable to foreign donations just like Obama

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

The new investigative report on foreign influences in American elections from the conservative Government Accountability Institute discovered that, in addition to concerns about Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, members of Congress including Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have been or continue to be vulnerable to non-American financial influence in their campaigns.

GAI found that Rubio, during his 2010 run for U.S. Senate, didn’t require online credit card donors to input Card Verification Value data — known also as a credit card’s Card Security Code (CSC), CVV2 or Card Verification Number (CVN). GAI said such a number or code “is a three or four digit number generally imprinted on the back of the card” that is designed “to verify that the person executing the purchase physically possesses the card.”

GAI also determined that there was “considerable international interest” in Rubio’s Senate bid, “including significant foreign traffic going to the website marcorubioforussenate.com.” GAI discovered “multiple Spanish language, foreign websites featuring video links that included embedded advertising directing individuals to the donation solicitation page” for Rubio’s 2010 campaign.

While GAI says many of those links to Rubio’s campaign donation solicitation  “are still up and active,” GAI said

Rubio has – in May 2012 – added CVV protection to his website.

GAI said that what Rubio did “is a potential violation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) solicitation laws.”

In addition to specifically Rubio, GAI found issues with about 47.3 percent of all members of Congress. That 47.3 percent of members – a percentage that consists of both Republicans and Democrats – do not, according to GAI, require CVV protection for online credit card donors to their political campaigns.

High profile members who don’t use such protections on their campaign website include members of the congressional Democratic leadership, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

All Congressional GOP leadership — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor – use the CVV protection against fraudulent and foreign donations.

That said, several high-profile Republicans in Congress don’t employ such protections. They include: House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King, Senate Judiciary committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp, among others.

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