I’m not a big believer in the efficacy of our campaign finance laws. I am of the opinion that the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance act (yep. THAT Mccain), was a huge mistake. Be that as it may, we do have laws and our candidates – ALL our candidates – are expected to abide by them. Even The Chosen One.
Now comes the news that Obama and Co. have found a way to game the system. Federal law limits the amount of contributions from an individual, and sets forth regulations as to who can contribute. The laws are designed to prevent any group of people from effectively purchasing a candidate. There is a maximum dollar figure that any one person can give to a candidate.
So what happens when someone wants to contribute online? How do you verify their identity? The only way the internet can verify identity in regards to credit cards, is to use AVS – the Address Verification Service. It checks your credit card number against the address on file. It’s weak protection, but at least it’s something. Except if you’re Barack Obama.
Obama’s campaign has effectively set AVS to “don’t bother to check for a real address,” in order to allow just about anybody to contribute. While this may sound like an ideal way to scam the Obama campaign, in reality, this cuts the other direction. It allows their campaign to accept so-caled cash cards. What’s a “cash card,” you may ask? Well, it’s a card that looks and acts like a credit card, but that works only when you pre-load money on it. You can buy them all over the country. They’re a Godsend to someone who needs the convenience of plastic, but had credit problems. The problem is, you can buy cash cards with…well, cash. When you pay for something with cash, there’s no real way to verify your identity. Thus some of the big contributors to the Obama campaign in the month of September were fine folks like “Adolf Hitler” and “Doodad Pro” with addresses like #1 Reichstag Plaza, Berlin,” and “Palestine” can slip through the system.
Here’s the shocker. Two thirds of Obama’s contributions in September came in via unverifiable cash cards.
That’s huge. Essentially, the Obama campaign has found a way that gives them (im)plausible deniability regarding the accounting for their donor base. It also means that any group – say a foreign government – can buy the election.
If this doesn’t scare you, it should. No matter who’s doing the scamming. Regardless of who you are supporting, do you really want them to win by cheating? I hope not.