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Is This a Money Laundering Scandal?
Is the Obama Campaign falsifying its FEC disclosure reports by using a front company to disguise its relationship with ACORN, a controversial group?
By Eastan McNeal on August 20, 2008
Less than one month after admitting that it had received over $30,000 in illegal contributions from Gaza it seems the Obama for America campaign is facing yet another damaging issue related to campaign finance. This time the infraction emerges from potentially shady expenditures or expenditure reporting. It is, however, highly unlikely that the campaign can write this disclosure pattern off as a “technical glitch” or a “clerical error” as the firms involved are much more than just casually linked, and the misrepresentations occur on eleven separate documents.
Why is Barack Obama spending nearly $1,000,000 on a business housed here?According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) financial disclosure reports filed by the campaign earlier this year, between February 25th and May 17th Obama paid $832,598 to Citizens Services, Inc. (CSI), one of the nearly seventy Not-for-Profit companies registered at the ACORN New Orleans headquarters on 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue [SEE IMAGE OF THE NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS of CSI as well as 20 other businesses.]. CSI now also shares an office with ACORN in Chicago at 209 W. Jackson St., home of the SEIU (Service Employees International Union).
On the surface, the 11 separate payments to CSI appear to be for services typically useful to a campaign. However, as confirmed by one of its directors, CSI does not offer the services listed on the Obama campaign expense reports. According to the director, and as found in various disclosure reports from other candidates, CSI specializes in field operations, specifically grass roots organizing for get out the vote efforts. The Obama expense reports list the following payments to CSI: $564,342 for Stage, Sound, Lighting, $138,000 for Advance Work, $18,417 for Polling and $98,451 for Travel/Lodging. There is no “get out the vote” expenditure to CSI in the reports.
After retrieving a copy of CSI’s business registration form from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, on July 24th one of our researchers contacted Sunday Alabi, the first Director listed on the corporate filing. Our caller asked Mr. Alabi if CSI could provide Stage, Sound and Lighting for a campaign. Mr. Alabi’s response was that those services are not the nature of CSI’s business and that our caller would need to contact ACORN. The same response was given when questioned about polling and campaign advance work. But those are the services listed by Obama on the FEC reports. Services supposedly performed by CSI.
CSI is supposedly totally independent of ACORN. However, Jeff Robinson, who reportedly heads the company, is listed in his LinkedIn public profile as the National Deputy Political Director-Campaigns and Elections at ACORN and the Political Director at Communities Voting Together which, by the way, contributed $60,000 to CSI. In May of this year he publicly endorsed the Bob Blumenfield campaign by way of his position as a Director of ACORN. Furthermore, all of CSI’s directors are in ACORN leadership. One should ask why there appears to be so much deception and misdirection surrounding a tiny storefront not-for-profit organization from New Orleans.
Do you pay a fast food restaurant to set a broken bone? That is, incredibly, how absurd these election reports are. A brief conversation with an enforcement officer at the FEC, using hypothetical names, yielded the following response.
According to the FEC, in a situation where a campaign committee reports that they paid a company for services that the company says they do not provide, there is reason to be suspicious. It was irregular. And, it was inappropriate. To wit in 1997 Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar (OH) was prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department for conspiracy to deceive the FEC as to the true nature of the campaign contributions and expenditures that she was required to report. Falsifying federal disclosure reports is a serious matter and it is a crime. If the FEC chooses to exercise equal enforcement then Senator Obama could very well be subject to prosecution….Read the rest of this article at NOQUARTER