Barack Obama’s money machine is fueled by the likes of Martha Murphy, a grandmother who has donated 104 times for a total of $2,475.34.
Murphy has used her credit card to donate in amounts as small as $10. “It is amazing how it adds up,” she said.
Obama has revolutionized campaign fundraising, employing the Internet to tap into more donors than any candidate in history. The campaign has reported $160 million in contributions from donors of $200 or less, more than a third of the $458 million raised. But as Obama sets records, his fundraising has come under increased scrutiny.
The Democratic candidate’s donors also include “Derty Poiiuy,” an individual with a scatological sense of humor who has given $950. “Mong Kong” has contributed $1,065 and lists an address in a nonexistent city. “Fornari USA” gave $800 and listed the address of an apparel store of that name near San Francisco.
The Republican National Committee filed a federal complaint this week, alleging that some of Obama’s small donations are illegal because they come from foreign nationals or exceed the limit.
Obama’s contributions have also exposed a loophole in the law, which does not require disclosure of the identities of donors who give $200 or less, making it impossible to determine whether they are legitimate without a federal audit.
Lawrence Norton, a former Federal Election Commission general counsel, noted that the law was written when “no one conceived that a candidate could raise millions” in such small amounts. “It certainly is a case where the 1970s law is not in step with current campaign fundraising practices,” he said.
Exactly why a donor would use a name like Derty Poiiuy is not clear. “It’s part of phenomenon that we’ve never seen before,” FEC spokesman Bob Biersack said. People who make up names when donating to federal candidates violate laws against making false statements, but Biersack could not recall anyone being prosecuted for such a crime.