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FEC Launches Audit of Obama’s 2008 Campaign

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The lion's share of Obama's legal spending went to Perkins Coie, a well-known Democratic legal and accounting firm. Perkins Coie is representing the Obama campaign in all major legal matters, including
seven of the FEC's known investigations involving the White House bid. In each of these cases, the FEC voted to dismiss the case or found "no reason to believe" that the Obama for America or related committees had violated any laws.

Perkins Coie may be also representing Obama for America in the FEC's spending investigation of a Republican National Committee complaint. A few weeks before the election, the RNC alleged that Obama's campaign accepted donations from foreign nationals, received contributions that had exceed limits and submitted fictitious donor names to the agency. The status of this investigation is unknown, though the FEC confirmed it received the complaint.

Obama campaign officials said they have made significant efforts to track down elusive donor information for some of its contributors. In many situations, it has chosen to make large refunds or give any questionable money to the government.

During the 2010 cycle, the Obama campaign led all organizations when it came to sending refunds to individual donors. Following the election, it disclosed disbursement transactions totaling more than $5.7 million in refunds.

Though the FEC has not penalized Obama, the president's campaign has also voluntarily paid more than $400,000 to the Treasury Department during the past two years for donations that were out of compliance
with campaign finance rules.

This sum is not just the most of any campaign; it is greater than all other similar spending by House, presidential and political action committees put together during the 2010 cycle. The Obama campaign paid the Treasury Department $232,000 at the end of 2009 for "disgorgement of unverifiable contributors" and another $182,000 in June 2010 for "uncashed checks."

"Legal fees and disgorgement are consistent with FEC proceedings," said Jan Baran, who heads the election law and government ethics group at Wiley Rein.

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