FBI does nothing about ‘illegal’ campaign donations

Using the same rationale that the Toledo Blade used last August identifying a company CEO handing out money to his employees, or forcing employees to donate as a requirement for employment, I identified and reported a similar instance at Qbase in Beavercreek back in February of 2008. The spate of 17 donations of $1,000 each to Steve Austria’s (R) congressional campaign- by a group of QBase managers, all but 1 had never given over the reporting threshold of $250 in the past (one had donated $250 to a Democrat previously) in addition to donations by the CEO and his wife (who were frequent donors) all in one week should have set the alarm bells ringing.

The FBI did nothing.

Now, they are in the process of “investigating” the Suarez Corporation- oddly enough, the number of donors is 17 as well.

The Toledo Blade reported in August that 17 Suarez Corporation Industries employees and some of their spouses gave a combined $100,000 to the Mandel campaign and $100,000 to the Renacci campaign. Some had never given to political campaigns before, lived in modest neighborhoods, and held job titles such as copy writer. It raised questions about whose money was being contributed and whether it was an attempt to steer around the $5,000 contribution limit. Giving campaign money in the name of another is illegal.

via FBI looks at ‘illegal’ campaign donations.

The thing that bothers me even more than this circumvention strategy to funnel money to candidates is that for the life of me, I’m confused about how one of Congressman Mike Turner’s prime supporters is able to give to him at all. The Greentree Group in Beavercreek was his leading donor, giving over $18,000 in 2010. Yet, every time I’ve run, or donated to a candidate for federal office, I’ve had to put a disclaimer on the donation form- that the donor discloses that he is not a federal contractor- which Greentree clearly is.

Considering that campaigns are now handicapped by the media based on their campaign war chests more than on if the candidate actually stands for anything, if the FBI doesn’t do its job policing the donation pipeline, why do we even bother with having campaign election rules and the FEC?

Making matters even more difficult, the FEC database has no way to assist researchers to find all illegal contributions – since candidates self report donations and clerical errors by campaign treasurers can make correlating data difficult. Did the donor file as Randy or Randall? Did they list their employer as GE or General Electric? When searching to find patterns of corruption these seemingly minor differences make a huge difference.

There is only one way to begin to straighten out this mess- require anyone who is donating over $250 to a federal candidate to register with the FEC, just as lobbyists have to register, and be assigned a unique federal donor ID number. They would also have to register their primary employer ID number as well (this may be difficult for people like Mitt Romney who haven’t had a real job in years) to be able to track their companies’ donations.

The campaign finance rules we have in place today are totally inadequate thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, which have caused donations to a “candidate” to be grossly marginalized compared to donations to SuperPACs which can collect unlimited amounts of money with impunity- making the only crime the Suarez Corporation really guilty of is stupidity for donating to a candidate instead of to a SuperPAC in support of the candidate.

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