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Don't Look Now! Both Campaigns Take Money From Foreigners

Don't Look Now! Both Campaigns Take Money From Foreigners

Back when Elton John put on a concert for Hillary Clinton, we learned that presidential candidates cannot take money from foreign donors. But Barack Obama and John McCain won't let a silly rule get in the way of their fundraising momentum. A little investigating by the Associated Press revealed that both candidates accept overseas money, saving the crucial details for later.

Out of 123 overseas donors interviewed, only five said that either the McCain or Obama camp asked to see their passports as required by the FEC. In addition, three non-citizens had successfully donated to Obama. One Canadian Obama fan even wrote a note with his donation that said, "I am not an American citizen!" The contribution (and the note!) got entered into Obama's records. To see how other foreign money sneaks in,


Other donors take a sneaky approach, entering fake passport numbers when they give online. After the AP uncovered the errors, the Obama campaign said it would return the money.

Hoping to ward off foreign influence, campaign finance laws allow candidates to accept contributions only from citizens or green card holders. But the sheer amount of donors makes it difficult for the candidates to follow the letter of that law. McCain's camp admits it's unfeasible to ask overseas web-donors to send copies of their passports. Should the official policy adopt the "honor system" routine practiced by both candidates?


Join The Conversation
janneth janneth 8 years
Foreigners have more money right now.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Thanks Jude! :)
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Jillness said what I was thinking, just more clearly.
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
this is interesting...does everyone just turn a blind eye when both parties are involved in "wrong doing"? You better believe that Fox News would be all over this crap if it was just Obama...and people all over would be in an uproar! But just a shoulder shrug if they both do it...
Advah Advah 8 years
Sorry I'm just not sure how to take the picture - did Bono actually financially support Obama's campaign?!
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
the ironic thing is that in a global economy, corporations and others who donate large amounts of money, and hire lobbyists in washington, often have major interests abroad. catching individual donors on the websites makes for a good news headline, but we've had foreign $$ waved in the faces of politicians for a looooong time. not saying this is OK, just pointing out the facts.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
Keeping track of donations must be an accounting nightmare. And really, what politician is just going to turn down money?
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I think this is a good policy and I'm personally glad that our campaigns can't be funded by non-citizens. It's easy to see how some donations slip through the cracks, especially online. (I'm pretty sure the programming code on their end isn't looking for the text "not an American citizen" in the comment area when processing donations.) I don't know how you could police something like this easily. yy, that is an interesting question about merchandise.
Plastic-bee Plastic-bee 8 years
I would like to say I am surprised, but sadly, I’m not. Just from the look of both campaigns, they seem to cost a hell of a lot of money.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Especially because the campaigns are so large to cover our very vast country, I think it would be very difficult to monitor where the donations come from. It is important, though, to make sure that non-citizens do not affect our election system. I don't envy either campaign for having that enormous task. Good luck, gentleman!
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
what if someone from overseas wants to purchase merchandise from a candidates website, like a tshirt or a hat or something? is that off limits too? just curious.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
why am i not surprised about this one. i think that candidates are so hard pressed to make as much money for their run that they will over look where money is coming from to get things rolling. especially knowing that you can donate online and that's one major way that Obama made his money - it's really easy to make up citizenship i would assume (i don't know for sure so i could be misspeaking). i think that if there's someone who can't vote who still wants to support a candidate, then that's their choice though right? I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing - but to know that there's a real rule out there that's being broken, and these are our potential future presidents that are breaking the rules - it just sets us up for less than perfection for the next 4 years .
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