A 50-year-old fuel truck delivery man has allegedly run fake Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee donation websites that have raked in thousands of dollars over several years.
Tonight on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, investigative journalist Brian Ross will report on a forthcoming eight-month investigation by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute that uncovers the serious threat of fraudulent and foreign online campaign donations.
One of the revelations from the Institute’s upcoming 110-page report— titled, America the Vulnerable: Are Foreign and Fraudulent Online Campaign Contributions Influencing U.S. Elections?—involves the presence of phony Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee websites allegedly run by a 50-year-old man named Donald Peltier.
Sparks flew when ABC news investigative reporter Brian Ross confronted Mr. Peltier, the owner of the phony donation websites, www.RepublicanNationalCommittee.org and www.DemocraticNationalCommittee.org. Indeed, the alleged fraudster called 9-11. "’I don't want to talk to him, I don't want anything to do with him,’ Peltier told a police dispatcher on a 911 call he made, referring to ABC News correspondent Brian Ross.”
Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer says his group’s forthcoming report—and the ABC News story on it—highlight the ease with which fraudsters can operate in the age of online campaign fundraising.
“The potential for foreign and fraudulent donations influencing U.S. elections is now a click away,” said Schweizer in an interview with Breitbart News. “Federal Election Commission laws haven’t caught up to the technological realities of today. That’s a big problem that threatens the integrity of the U.S. election system.”
The revelation caught both the Republican and Democratic Parties by surprise:
Neither political party was aware of Peltier's sites, which seek campaign contributions, until contacted by ABC News.
"Our lawyers are going to take action, file legal proceedings and try to get this to be stopped immediately," said Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee said its lawyers plan to refer the information uncovered by ABC News to the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.
"This website is in no way affiliated with the Democratic National Committee and donations to the site are not directed to the Democratic party and or Democratic causes," said spokeswoman Melanie Roussell.
ABC News credits the Government Accountability Institute with discovering the fake websites and says its forthcoming comprehensive report will demonstrate how “the increasing reliance on the Internet to raise political money has created a host of issues related to possible fraud involving suspect websites”:
The group's research discovered Peltier's look-alike sites were registered in 2002 and appear to have been activated in the past few years, undetected by the two political parties.
"Even sophisticated campaigns and federal authorities seem to be unaware of individuals that are misrepresenting themselves and soliciting funds while posing as political party organizations," says the GAI report.
The GAI researchers found Peltier was connected to dozens of websites, including some that appeared to be fundraising for President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Barackobamamountain.net" is a slickly produced site that offers a "Free $100 VISA gift card to Florida residents "if they provide an email address and take a short survey on whether they approve of Obama's job performance.
ABC News will air the expose tonight on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.