If you are a billionaire, or a foreigner, and don’t want it known that you are donating millions to a US presidential campaign, here’s how (via Don Surber):
Secret Money Floods Campaigns
Big Count of Small Gifts Is Opaque to the Public
A torrent of secret money is flooding into the leading presidential campaigns, with more than $118 million, or one-quarter of the total raised in this cycle, banked without disclosure of who gave the funds or where the donations originated.
The money is coming from hundreds of thousands of donations of $200 or less, which have been widely praised for democratizing the system for funding White House bids. However, the surge in low-dollar gifts has come at the cost of transparency, since federal law only requires campaigns to itemize donations when a donor gives more than $200.
According to an analysis being released today by a Washington think tank, the Campaign Finance Institute, Senator Obama of Illinois led the pack with such small and secret donations, pulling in about $31 million during 2007. Rep. Ron Paul ran second in small gifts, raking in more than $17 million. At the end of the year, Senator Clinton and John Edwards, who has since dropped out, were essentially tied for third in unitemized, small contributions, with each candidate raising about $11 million.
However, one area of concern with the flood of donations, particularly those made online, is that foreigners could be weighing in illegally in an American election. Mr. Obama’s Web site allows donors to choose an address in one of 227 possible countries or territories, including Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and Yemen.
While it is a crime for most foreigners to donate to American campaigns at the federal level, those with so-called green card status can donate legally, as can Americans who live abroad.
And who’s going to know if they aren’t?
Dean Barnett listened to Obama Unplugged, and without the telepromoter Obama sounded like John Edwards impersonating Howard Dean:
The results weren’t just interesting because they revealed Obama as a markedly inferior speaker without the Teleprompter. Obama’s supporters have had ample notice that the scripted Obama is far more effective than the spontaneous one. The extremely articulate and passionate Obama that makes all the speeches has yet to show up at any of the debates. For such a gifted and energetic speaker, he is an oddly tongue-tied and indifferent debater.
What was especially noteworthy about his Virginia speech were the diversions Obama took from the prepared text. Because of Obama’s improvised moments, this speech was different than the usual fare he offers. We didn’t get the normal dosages of post-partisanship or even “elevation.” Virtually every time Obama deviated from the text, he expressed the partisan anger that has so poisoned the Democratic party. His spontaneous comments eschewed the conciliatory and optimistic tone that has made the Obama campaign such a phenomenon. It looked like the spirit of John Edwards or Howard Dean had possessed Obama every time he vamped. While Paul Krugman probably loved it, this different Obama was a far less attractive one.
Other improvised moments also contradicted the generally lofty tone of the Obama campaign. At one, point when addressing what we have to do for the economy, Obama ad-libbed, “The insurance and the drug companies aren’t going to give up their profits easily . . . Exxon Mobil made $11 billion this past quarter.” This is the kind of empty class warfare shtick that earned John Edwards an early exit from the race. What’s more, it displayed the kind of simplistic sloganeering that Obama had previously eschewed.
Worse still was the threat to take away the profits of the drug and insurance companies. Perhaps Obama thinks that the drug companies will continue to develop life saving therapies out of benevolence, and that their employees will happily take the pay cuts that will accompany the loss of profits. This is yet another simplistic piece of us-against-them politicking, the kind of thing that Obama has reliably eschewed–at least when he’s on script.
What makes Obama’s Jefferson-Jackson speech especially relevant is where he went when he went off script. The unifying Obama who has impressed so many people during this campaign season vanished, replaced by just another angry liberal railing against George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Exxon Mobil, and other long standing Democratic pinatas. The pressing question that Obama’s decidedly uninspiring Jefferson-Jackson oratory raises is which Obama is the real Obama–the one who read beautifully crafted words from a Teleprompter after his victory in Iowa, or the tediously angry liberal who improvised in Virginia?
Caracas next, Zbig?
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