January 28, 2010

Establishment Media Negligence in ’08 Campaign Enables Obama Foreign Campaign Contribution Chutzpah

ObamaSOTUIn his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama had this to say about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on campaign finance:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.

Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered delivered the definitive responsethe definitive debunking of the president’s statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick “demagoguery”), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.

Here is Smith’s response:

The president’s statement is false.

The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making “a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election” under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any “expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication… .”

This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demogoguery of the worst kind.

President Obama’s Wednesday whining is especially offensive because presidential candidate Obama’s campaign accepted contributions from foreign sources. Pamela Geller, who with the help of her readers at Atlas Shrugs broke and pursued the story in the summer of 2008, recounted much of her proof in a BigGovernment.com post on Monday. Here are selected excerpts, which are no substitute for reading the whole thing:

I broke the jaw-dropping story about how tens of thousands of dollars came in to the Obama campaign from a Hamas-controlled camp in Gaza. Al-Jazeera actually ran video of Obama phone banks in Gaza.

…. Gaza was not alone. The contributions came from over 50 nations. And many seemed intent on skirting campaign finance laws: Obama’s foreign contributors were making multiple small donations, ostensibly in their own names, over a period of a few days, some under maximum donation allowances — but others were aggregating in excess of the maximums when their contributions were all added up. Other donations came in from donors with names such as “Hbkjb,” “jkbkj,” and “Doodad.” Also, thousands of Obama’s foreign donations ended in cents. This was evidence of foreign contributors sending in donations in foreign currencies that exchanged into odd amounts. Americans living overseas would almost uniformly be able to contribute dollars, in set amounts.

…. The Obama campaign received a substantial amount of money from countries that have an interest in seeing a weak American President: $366,708.22 from China; $25,259.00 from the United Arab Emirates; $7,062.60 from Russia; and $6,716.28 from Saudi Arabia. Obama also took in $6,350.00 from Indonesia; $5,000.00 from Kenya; and $1,750.00 from Egypt.

…. If justice is to be done, Barack Obama will have to own up to his violations of campaign finance law, and pay the political price. An audit of Obama’s campaign finances is long overdue.

Pamela also noted at her blog in August 2008 that many of these foreign-sourced and bogus-named contributions were over the legal limit of $2,300.

The audit Geller and others including the Heritage Foundation have demanded is indeed overdue, but stories such as this one at Politico shortly after the election indicated that the likelihood of such an audit ever occurring is low, largely because Obama did not accept taxpayer financing of his campaign (John McCain did).

Geller and her readers also discovered that the Obama campaign’s contribution acceptance mechanism had disabled normal protections and safeguards against fraud. I noted this fact in a Pajamas Media column on the Sunday before Election Day 2008, while also observing the establishment media’s apathy towards what would have been a blockbuster story if a campaign other than the Anointed One’s had engaged in these activities (bolds are mine, and differ from original):

…. anyone could pretend to be someone else, with someone else’s address, and successfully process a credit-card donation to Obama.

…. (an Atlas reader reported that) “Having worked for companies that process credit cards online, it is necessary to go through and manually disable the safeguards that they put in place to verify a person’s address and zip code with the cardholder’s bank. But international banks don’t currently have the same safeguards that banks in the U.S. have, which also works in the One’s favor. So most likely they’ve disabled the necessary safeguards for U.S. cards

The disabled components involved are part of what is known as the “AVS” (Automated Verification System). Many bloggers and blog commenters have confirmed the accuracy of the just-excerpted claims, including the fact that the merchant has to take proactive steps to rewrite or disable existing programming and controls to make AVS not work.

This information would indicate that Team Obama does not know (or pretends not to know; that would be for investigators to determine) who specifically has donated much of its campaign money — and the fact that they don’t know is deliberate.

Further, the lack of controls in Obama’s campaign-contribution system enables the use of prepaid cards, which if paid for in cash, are more than likely completely untraceable without going back to store video recordings, most of which are discarded or overwritten after a short time.

From all appearances, in both cases — unverified credit-card and prepaid-card contributions — it is very likely that the Obama campaign couldn’t refund monies received even if it wanted to.

…. Despite many tests, no one has been able to show that these material control weaknesses exist in the McCain-Palin contributions system.

…. America’s mainstream Obama-mad media has been negligent in covering this astonishing story, either failing to report it at all (which Clay Waters of NewsBusters has noted is the case at the New York Times), or blandly understating the severity and, if you will, audacity of the enterprise ….

…. As it is, most voters have cast or will cast their presidential ballots totally unaware of what may very well be the largest and most highly-organized campaign-finance fraud in U.S. elections history.

I am not aware of anything that has occurred since the presidential election that would affect the accuracy of the final excerpted sentence.

The key to Obama’s ability to make his false SOTU statement Wednesday night without immediately raising eyebrows is that the establishment media gave very short and dismissive shrift to the findings of Geller and others when it mattered most. Sadly, this demonstrates that ignoring unpleasant truths further enables and emboldens those who, like our president, prefer to engage in disseminating and perpetuating falsehoods while attempting through endless repetition to transform them into conventional wisdom.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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