NOVEMBER 11, 2008
The agency created by Congress to enforce campaign finance laws won’t audit the biggest fundraising operation in political history—Barack Obama’s presidential campaign—despite rampant allegations of fraudulent and questionable donations.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) won’t conduct an embarrassing audit of how Obama raised and spent hundreds of millions of dollars during his presidential campaign but it will complete a rigorous probe of Republican John McCain’s campaign, according to a political news site.
McCain gets the automatic audit because he accepted public financing but Obama refused it after initially saying that he would take it. In fact, he is the first presidential candidate to decline public funding in the general election which evidently means that he gets a pass on FEC scrutiny.
The agency could and should still audit Obama’s massive campaign coffers, but that would require four of the FEC’s five commissioners to vote for it. The scenario is unlikely because it would launch a lengthy, potentially messy and high-profile investigation of a sitting president.
Obama shattered fundraising records by raising more than $600 million during his 18-month presidential campaign, more than $150 million in the month before the election. Much of the money came from small mystery donors whose names the campaign won’t reveal and some of it is suspected to be from foreign sources.
Federal law does not require campaigns to identify donors that give less than $200 during an election cycle and Obama got a staggering amount of contributions—$160 million—from such sources that won’t ever be revealed without an FEC probe. Many of them gave money via the internet using obviously fake names or nonexistent addresses.
Just this week Obama vowed to increase government openness with a new level of transparency and accountability. Pointing out that the Bush Administration has been one of the most secretive in American history, the president-elect announced that he will use cutting-edge technologies to give Americans access to his administration’s records. Perhaps he can start by disclosing who financed his historic presidential campaign.
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