A investigation into the ability of the Obama campaign to accept foreign donations by the conspiracy website World Net Daily appears to have broken federal election law. The website made donations to the Obama campaign for the amount of $15 and $5 using a Pakistani Internet Protocol and proxy server, a disposable credit card, a fake address, and the name “Osama bin Laden.”
But the site's editor, Joseph Farah, said the test was worth the risk, and compared it to civil rights-era civil disobedience.
The website pointed out in its story "the acceptance of foreign contributions is strictly illegal under U.S. campaign finance law," and made the case — like other conservatives — that Obama may have secretly accepted floods of foreign small dollar donations. The Obama campaign says it catches the occasional small foreign contribution with internal checks, and an Federal Elections Commission audit of the 2008 campaign — which faced similar allegations over small contributions, which are not disclosed, refuted the theories that year.
And i running the experiment, WND appears to have broken FEC guidelines which make clear donating in the name of another is illegal.
"Contributions made by one person in the name of another are prohibited," reads the FEC's guidelines to Federal Election Campaign Act's code of regulations. "No person may knowingly permit the use of his or her name to effect such a contribution. It is also prohibited to knowingly assist someone in making or to accept a contribution in the name of another."
According to the Justice Department the penalty for making is contributions is the name of another is up to "five years in prison and a fine of not less than 300 percent of the amount involved in the violation and not more than the greater of $50,000 or 1,000 percent of the amount involved in the violation."
Joseph Farah, the editor and CEO of WND responded to a request for comment at length:
As actual journalists, not a paid shills for Barack Obama or unlimited government, we at WND.com take risks in investigating fraud, waste, corruption and abuse by officials. I wonder if BuzzFeed were around during Martin Luther King's day if you would focus on the risks of civil disobedience rather than the larger issues of social justice he raised and the specific grievances he brought to the nation's attention. I also can't help but wonder if you, as a purported journalist will cheer if I am prosecuted for investigating FEC violations by the president of the United States.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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