What's in That Report About Illegal Foreign Political Donations?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 8 2012 2:42 PM

What's in That Report About Illegal Foreign Political Donations?

Last week the Internet learned of a coming expose of possible foreign money coming into the Obama campaign and other campaigns. The report, from Peter Schweizer's Government Accountability Institute, is up, and... not conclusive. How could it be? Schweizer's researchers spent six months trying to figure out what protections existed to keep illegal foreign donations out of American campaigns. But they ran up against the same fog as Michael Isikoff in a similar, shorter look at weird money to Obama from "Good Will" and "Doodad Pro." You can't easily determine whether a foreign national has given a donation. This report includes a series of blog posts from foreigners talking about the ease of giving, but not saying that they've actually given.

The big, immediate questions I see: Why do Obama donation appeals go out to non-Americans, anyway? And why isn't the credit card protection stronger? The first question is tricky, because for years scammy organizations have used the Obama brand to collect money from the dumb and credit-limited. The second question is compelling:

The Obama campaign has claimed that it doesn’t need the CVV because they are able to vet contributions on the back end using sophisticated techniques that it doesn’t disclose.
This begs the question: why is it using different techniques when it comes to selling campaign merchandise? The Obama campaign’s vulnerabilities are not difficult to fix. In addition to the CVV and a strong AVS system, the campaign could make use of geo-location on the campaign websites so that if a visitor comes from a foreign IP address, he or she would be alerted of the relevant federal laws and asked for a passport number or military ID in order to proceed to the
donation page.

Good questions! I've asked the campaign to clear this up and will update if they do.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Oct. 23 2014 11:51 AM It Seems No One Is Rich or Happy: I Looked.
The Vault
Oct. 23 2014 12:02 PM Delightfully Awkward Studio Action Shots of Players, Used on Early Baseball Cards
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 12:01 PM Who Is Constantine, and Should You Watch His New Show?
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.