President Obama’s campaign has received $4.5 million in online donations from people who claim to live in zip codes that don’t exist in the United States, according to a new report that raises the possibility that the campaign’s lax online security requirements is allowing foreign donors to contribute illegally.
“During calendar year 2012, the Obama campaign received at least $4,580,805.35 from donors who did not submit a ZIP code, or submitted one that does not exist,” the Government Accountability Institute announced in a report after reviewing FEC records. That figure is 16 times the amount that Mitt Romney has received in such contributions ($282,814), suggesting that Romney has tighter security controls for his online donations.
This study of Obama and Romney campaign records comes after GAI reported that almost half of federal campaigns fail to verify the location of donors. The New York Post followed up with its own report on the topic.
“Chris Walker, a British citizen who lives outside London, told The Post he was able to make two $5 donations to President Obama’s campaign this month through its Web site while a similar attempt to give Mitt Romney cash was rejected. It is illegal to knowingly solicit or accept money from foreign citizens,” the Post reported. “Walker said he used his actual street address in England but entered Arkansas as his state with the Schenectady, NY, ZIP code of 12345.”
Obama had a similar edge over John McCain in the 2008 election, as the Obama campaign that year took in $2,778,808 while McCain only drew $431,046, according to GAI.
Ironically, President Obama suggested that Republicans would benefit from illegal foreign donations during his 2010 State of the Union address.
“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said while criticizing the Supreme Court justices gathered before him. “Well 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, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”
Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words “not true” when Obama said that.
“The use of a robust Address Verification System (AVS) would significantly minimize donations with invalid zip codes from slipping through the net,” GAI President Peter Schweizer said in a statement on the report. “When you use your credit card at a pay-at-the-pump gas station, you have to enter your zip code. Enter the wrong number or none at all, your transaction is denied. If that’s the standard to buy gas, surely it’s reasonable to expect the same for donating to federal candidates.”