Has Foreign Money Bolstered Obama?
Has the Obama campaign made a regular practice of accepting illegal foreign campaign contributions, as the research of Kenneth Timmerman suggests?
Well, if one is to judge by an article published last month by the Italian columnist Maria Laura Rodotà, in certain European circles such contributions would appear to be an open secret. Moreover, Rodotà's account of being inundated by emails from the Obama campaign suggests that the campaign may not only have been accepting illegal foreign campaign contributions, but that it may have been soliciting them. Here is what Maria Laura Rodotà writes in her October 2 column in the major Italian daily Corriere della Sera [Italian link]:
Oh God. It's my fault. And your fault. And also the fault of that friend of yours who gave her email to the Obama campaign. They have been writing us for a year, the Obama people -- several times a day. They've sent us videos of Barack, they've responded to criticisms, they've laid down the party line, they've sold gadgets. They've invited us to interesting events like "Camp Obama" in California. ... At the foot of each email, they'd ask for small contributions, even just five dollars -- which won't even get you breakfast here in downtown Milan. We never gave a cent. The cheapskates said, "You can't do that," they'd be foreign contributions; others sent donations from fake American addresses. Real or fake, live or online, you felt part of a community of like-minded persons, all normal and liberal.
Of course, the campaign's mailing lists could well include the email addresses of American citizens living abroad or of foreign nationals who -- like the "friend of the friend" of Rodotà -- signed up without the campaign's knowledge. But, as with contributions made via the campaign website, it would be up to the campaign to do the necessary vetting to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens and to take the necessary measures to prevent foreign contributions. Astonishingly, Timmerman found that the campaign website had actually turned off standard security features that would have minimized such contributions: for example, by requiring the verification of addresses.