President Barack Obama has become a global brand and his campaign has even sued local vendors for infringing upon the campaign’s trademarks, but a Government Accountability Institute (GAI) report released on Monday revealed Obama’s campaign does not own the mysterious site Obama.com, which redirects visitors — most of whom are foreign — to the Obama campaign’s official fundraising page.
This prompts a simple question: why does the Obama campaign not own Obama.com?
In September of 2008 and September of 2012, the Obama campaign has shattered fundraising records with small-dollar donations that the campaign does not need to disclose. In September of 2008, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised nearly $190 million. Last month, despite lowere enthusiasm for Obama’s campaign than in 2008, the campaign still raised $181 million, and most of that haul does not need to be publicly disclosed.
Because the Obama campaign has technological gurus that are considered some of the best in their respective fields, the campaign is surely aware that nearly 70% of traffic to Obama.com comes from foreign sources. Since Obama.com redirects to Obama’s official donation page, all of that traffic goes directly to a page where donors can conveniently donate to Obama’s campaign without having to pass standard security measures that prevent fraudulent credit card transactions.
Federal election laws prohibit campaigns from soliciting campaign contributions from foreigners, and the Obama campaign could be in violation of these laws. By not officially owning the site, the Obama campaign can attempt to reap the benefits of contributions that are potentially illegal while trying to absolve itself of any blame.
Regardless, the Obama campaign not having the rights to Obama.com is like Apple not not owning Apple.com, and that is why this is as mysterious as the Obama.com redirect site.