The Republican National Committee announced today that on Monday it will file a fundraising complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., charging the Democrat has accepted illegal donations from foreigners as well as contributions that exceed the $2,300-per-person federal limits from American citizens.
Obama's campaign has raised almost $460 million so far, and almost half that has been raised by small donors contributing less than $200. RNC chief counsel Sean Cairncross today noted in a conference call that questions have arisen about those smaller donations, which by law the campaign is not required to disclose.
Newsweek reported over the weekend that FEC auditors have asked the Obama campaign about a number of contributors whose contributions seem to violate campaign laws, such as "Good Will" of Austin, Texas, who listed his occupation as "You" and his employer as "Loving" and gave more than $11,000 total in $10 and $25 increments. Another questionable donor, "Doodad Pro" of Nunda, N.Y., gave $17,130 in similarly small increments.
"The Obama campaign has a track record of accepting these," Cairncross said.
He also said that "the Obama campaign has accepted contributions from foreign nationals and has knowingly done so through at least its failure to reasonably investigate where all this money is coming from." The RNC will ask the FEC to audit these smaller donations.
Earlier this year the Obama campaign returned more than $30,000 from Monir and Hosam Edwan, two Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip who said that they'd purchased Obama 2008 T-shirts in bulk from the Obama campaign Web site.
The Obama campaign responded to the RNC conference call by pointing out some of the McCain campaign's past fundraising issues.
"Because of campaign finance issues, John McCain has had to return over $1.2 million to donors who potentially violated the law with their contributions," said Obama spokesman Bill Burton in a statement. "We look forward to a thorough investigation into whether John McCain’s campaign has returned all of the money it raised from foreign nationals, as they have admitted McCain-bundler Harry Sergeant has done. Without accepting a dime from the Washington lobbyists or corporate PACs that have funded John McCain's campaign, our campaign has shattered fundraising records with donations from more than 2.5 million Americans. We have gone above and beyond the transparency requirements by disclosing our bundlers and the levels of contributions they raise."
McCain's campaign in August returned more than $50,000 in contributions raised from one single family in California by Mustafa Abu Naba’a, a Jordanian national and business partner of a Harry Sargeant III, finance chairman of the Florida Republican Party.
Burton acknowledged that "no organization is completely protected from Internet fraud" but added that "we will continue to review our fundraising procedures to ensure that we are taking every available to step to root-out improper contributions."
In June, a host of good government groups wrote to the McCain and Obama campaigns asking them to provide more details about their small donors. The McCain campaign agreed to do so, but the Obama campaign rejected the request.