Hillary’s Billions and Obama’s Money Laundering Gift Card Loophole
The Untold Story of a 2009 Election Finance Change That Allowed Billions in Foreign Political Donations Through Disposable Credit Cards
by Shad Olson
With the 2018 and 2020 elections looming large in the destiny of the nation, an expert in campaign finance and polling is traveling the country, informing voters on an Obama administration campaign finance adjustment that few people noticed, but that accounts for potentially billions of dollars in illegal foreign money flooding American elections in favor of Democrat candidates and the wanton flaunting of individual donations in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.
And it’s as easy as purchasing an online Visa gift card. Or thousands of them.
Political polling expert and analyst, John Pudner
Longtime political polling analyst and conservative campaign strategist John Pudner says a small tweak to credit card verification requirements in 2009 created a massively lucrative loophole in online donations to political campaigns that made it possible to conceal the origins of huge lumps of illegal foreign cash or of donations by United States mega donors that far exceed individual contribution limits as set by law. Under Federal election laws, campaign contributions by individual donors to specific candidates are limited to $2,700 per election cycle while donations by political action committees or PAC’s are limited to $5,000 per election cycle. Donations that exceed those limits are a violation of Federal law. Donations from foreign entities to American political candidates are strictly forbidden. Subjecting all political donations to bank documentation and strict campaign verification gave the appearance that the rules made our elections safe from foreign buyers and difficult to circumvent. But analyst John Pudner says a loosening in credit card verification requirements by the Obama White House made those limits and bans on foreign donors completely meaningless, and made money laundering for political donation purposes ridiculously easy.
How it Happened:
Up until 2009, campaign donations via credit card were subjected to verification by requiring either the cardholder’s attached zipcode or CVV information. In political circles, campaigns and candidates complained for years that those requirements and forcing donors to comply with the hassle of entering even two more datapoints in the donation process resulted in a higher percentage of failed online transactions and hence, lost donations. In 2009, specific statutes regarding banking verification requirements and credit card verification were loosened, removing the zip code or CVV requirement and easing the online donation process.
And then Pudner says, the floodgates opened.
How it Works:
Pudner says political operatives and campaigns quickly learned that with some basic proprietary computer software, donations of $10-million, $100-million, $400-million (hint, hint, Hillary) or more, regardless of origin, could be quickly converted to legally usable donations. By breaking the money down into smaller amounts and using it to purchase popular Visa, MasterCard or American Express gift cards which are then run through campaign website donation portals, campaigns and wealthy mega-donors and foreign entities could then create the appearance of campaign law compliance, while also creating the illusion of massive ‘grassroots support,’ in the form of thousands or tens of thousands of small donations to a campaign which actually originated from a single donor. In short order, total donations to Federal elections skyrocketed, as did the number of individual donors to U.S. Senate and Presidential campaigns, even for candidates whose typical donor list would be unlikely to foot the bill.
“I mean does anyone really believe that all these hordes of largely unemployed, basement dwelling dropouts really wrote massive checks to allow Bernie Sanders to raise more money in the primary than Hillary Clinton?” Pudner asked.
“When you factor in the gift card workaround, it becomes common sense to see that campaigns and donors have long had the ability to get around every limitation on the books for funding a campaign, while concealing the true nature and origin of huge lumps of cash and with the added benefit of looking like they are a campaign or candidate that is drawing the support of average people,” Pudner said.
“Rules that were put in play to ensure that foreign interests or large corporate interests are not able to just pony up and buy a candidate or an election result are absolutely worthless because of this loophole,” Pudner said.
“With just a small investment in technology and a little bit of time, Chinese donors, Russian donors or just large corporate donors stateside can write as large a check as they like and it can be converted to contributions of $200 or less that are never subject to any kind of verification and don’t even have a name that shows up on an FEC (Federal Election Commission) report,” Pudner said.
In some cases, Pudner says the gift card bundling software is sophisticated enough to assign dummy names to larger donations that exceed the $200 disclosure threshold, with no one ever the wiser.
“To believe that these foreign interests aren’t taking full advantage of a loophole of this size is just naive,” Pudner said.
Fixing the Fix:
Pudner says Republican lawmakers are working swiftly on a bill that would stiffen credit card reporting requirements and stiffen the online credit card political donation verification process to eliminate the gift card loophole. Not surprisingly, Pudner says bill proponents expect strong opposition, from both sides of the aisle. Pudner is urging conservatives, patriots and libertarians to contact their congressional delegation indicating strong support for the bill.
“This is an uphill fight, but it’s crucial to reestablishing the integrity of our election process,” Pudner said.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how this loophole has been used and the recent headlines that it helps explain, when there’s virtually no other explanation on the board that can account for such massive illegality in campaign donation limits and where political donations come from.”