Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ann Wagner's Foreign Donors Bring Flashbacks of Obama's 2008 Campaign

The race in Missouri's 2nd Congressional District between Ann Wagner and Ed Martin has already been a bit messy. I know people that support both candidates. I was surprised, however, when someone emailed me to say that at least two of Ann's donors live in Europe because that reminded me of the shenanigans of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

I don't know if Cindy Cope of Hessen, Germany, or Lisa Burrell of Weybridge, England, are American citizens or not, but I suspect that both of them are. Remember, Ann Wagner used to be Ambassador to Luxembourg. Perhaps, she met these two ex-pat homemakers while serving across the pond and struck up a friendship. Yes, if either of them is not an American, Wagner will have to return the money. Maybe the FEC would get involved, I don't know.

That said, I do think it's important to remember the illegal foreign donations that fueled Obama's 2008 campaign. Ace of Spades HQ was on point during that fiasco that never really left the blogosphere. It's important to understand how web-based credit card donation systems work, so I'll start with that.

When you make an online donation (or purchase) with a credit card, your transaction is checked through the Address Verification System (AVS). That system verifies that the address you supplied for your donation (purchase) is the same address on file with the credit card companies. If the addresses don't match, then the AVS returns a message explaining the discrepancy and stops the transaction. In 2008, Obama's campaign deliberately disabled this fraud detection tool on their campaign website.

As Ace and other bloggers reported in October 2008:
I cannot stress enough: AVS is default. It is not an arcane option you can choose. It is the default. To turn it off requires deliberate, intentional action. 
And Barack Obama cannot offer any plausible legitimate reason for doing so. 
Why does Barack Obama [have] less security on his credit card donations than my local cheesesteak shop?
With the AVS system disabled, donations could be made from anywhere in the world with any accepted credit card. Cards issued overseas would never be traceable. Obama's campaign did not keep any of the credit card numbers used to donate. That's understandable. If you give a campaign money, you don't usually want to leave your credit card on file with them. That also means that there's a little less substantive evidence to prove this fraud.

When I got an email about Ann Wagner getting foreign donations, that all came rushing back. I think Ann's just got a great fundraising network.

1 comment:

SallyW said...

I think about that (foreign donors) often. Wonder if anything has ever been done to over see and stop that from happening again -- or if nobody cares except for our bloggers and citizens who are aware of it.
What do we do?