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Originally published October 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 10, 2008 at 3:57 PM

Live inauguration coverage: AP | Washington Post | KUOW

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Some of Obama's donor names appear to be bogus

An analysis of campaign-finance records found nearly 3,000 donations to Obama from more than 12 people listing apparently fictitious donor information. The contributions represent a tiny fraction of the record $450 million Obama has raised.

The New York Times

Last December, somebody using the name "Test Person," from "Some Place, UT," made a series of contributions, the largest being $764, to Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign totaling $2,410.07.

Someone else identifying himself as "Jockim Alberton," from 1581 Leroy Ave. in Wilmington, Del., began giving to Obama last November, contributing $10 and $25 at a time for a total of $445 through the end of February.

The problem? There is no Leroy Avenue in Wilmington. And Jockim Alberton, who listed his employer and occupation as "Fdsa Fdsa," does not show up in a records search.

An analysis of campaign-finance records found nearly 3,000 donations to Obama from more than 12 people listing apparently fictitious donor information. The contributions represent a tiny fraction of the record $450 million Obama has raised. But the obviously questionable donations raise questions about whether the Obama campaign is adequately vetting its donors.

It is unclear why someone making a political donation would enter a fake name. Some perhaps did it for privacy reasons. Another more ominous possibility is fraud, perhaps to exceed the maximum $2,300 an individual can give for the primary and the general election.

There is no evidence questionable contributions amount to anything more than a small portion of Obama's fundraising haul. The analysis, conducted over a few days and looking for obvious anomalies, such as names with all consonants, identified about $40,000 in contributions from people who appeared not to exist. And these donations had not been refunded by the campaign as of its last filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in September.

It appears campaign-finance records for Sen. John McCain contain far fewer obviously fake names, although he has taken in about $200 million in contributions, less than half Obama's total.

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, highlighted the more than 2.5 million donors it has had to wade through and said: "We have been aggressive about taking every available step to make sure our contributions are appropriate."

But even a contributor who used the name, "Jgtj Jfggjjfgj," and listed an address of "thjtrj" in "gjtjtjtjtjtjr, AP," was able to contribute $370 in a series of $10 donations in August. Two donors named "Derty West" and "Derty Poiiuy," who both listed "rewq, ME" in their addresses and "Qwertyyy" or "Qwerttyyu" as either their employer or occupation, contributed a combined $1,110 in July.

In some cases, campaign-finance records showed refunds from the Obama campaign.

The questionable donations to the Obama campaign, most of which appear to have been given in small increments online, are bolstering the contentions of some campaign-finance groups that additional disclosure requirements are needed for contributions of less than $200.

Federal candidates are not required to itemize contributions of less than $200 to the FEC unless the donor's cumulative total adds up to more than $200. Roughly 70 percent of the contributions to Obama of less than $200 are not reported, compared with more than 75 percent of McCain's.

The Republican National Committee filed a complaint against the Obama campaign this week with the FEC, questioning the legitimacy of the more than $220 million in donations below $200 that Obama has received.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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