President Barack Obama’s campaign raised more than $150 million in September, which was a record haul for the 2012 cycle, but the campaign may be actively trying to block a story in the works about a “blockbuster donor scandal” that could put its fundraising numbers under intense scrutiny.
According to the Washington Examiner, “a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation” and uncovered “thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations” to the Obama campaign. Many of those donations have allegedly come from overseas and may be in violation of federal election laws.
National outlets are preparing stories on the matter, and the Obama campaign has been trying to block those stories from being published.
The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the totals,” reported the Obama campaign’s September fundraising haul on Thursday, which shattered the campaign’s August record of $114 million for the most money raised in a month during the 2012 election cycle.
The Obama campaign in August also broke the Romney campaign’s three-month streak in which it beat the Obama campaign in fundraising.
And in August, the Obama campaign raised $25 million from people donating $200 or less. In addition, while the September figures are not yet known, “more than 2 million people” had donated $25 or less as of August to the Obama campaign.
Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations, campaigns have to make their “best efforts” to collect information about contributors who donate $50-$200, but those who donate less than $200 do not have to be publicly disclosed.
Further, all donations less than $50 fall under the “Pass-the-Hat” rule, which means campaigns do not have to make their “best efforts” to collect identifying information on these donors and can actually report all such donations under a lump sum.
The Obama campaign’s September fundraising numbers may give people a feeling of déjà vu.
In September of 2008, the Obama campaign also raised $150 million, which was a record at that time, and added 632,000 new donors then.
And as the Examiner noted, the Obama campaign in 2008 was hit with a similar scandal in which the campaign let donors use “largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity.”
David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, wrote in his 2009 book, The Audacity to Win, about how even he was surprised by the amount of money the campaign was able to raise during the 2008 campaign.
“Whenever I checked our fund-raising performance online, it was like watching a volcano erupt,” Plouffe wrote. “There were times when we were raising $250,000, $300,000, even $500,000 an hour. It was remarkable, and critical.”