One of the fringe benefits of being a Democratic candidate for public office is that you can do almost anything without serious scrutiny by the popular press. That is certainly true of the candidacy of Barack Obama. With the exception of the Chicago Tribune, Obama’s hometown paper, the national press has ignored most of the negative disclosures concerning Barack. The scandals involving his associations with Rezko, Ayers, Wright, Pfleger, et al, have mostly been uncovered by writers on the Internet or talk radio.
Another potential problem for Obama was disclosed by the BBC and picked-up by Newsmax.com this week. According to the BBC, an organization called “Africans for Obama” raised $840,000 for Obama at an August 11, fundraiser in Lagos, Nigeria. Representatives of both Africans for Obama and the Obama campaign have denied that any money collected was going to the Obama campaign.
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, head of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Chairwoman of Africans for Obama, told a BBC reporter, “We never said we were going to donate money for the campaign. We paid for the hall and the entertainers and the surplus we said would be spent on advertisements aimed at persuading Nigerians to tell their relatives in America to register to vote.”
The Obama campaign wrote a letter to a Nigerian newspaper, “The Punch“, denying any connection with the event. “We want to make it clear that the event and this organization are in no way associated with Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee should this organization seek to place additional advertisements in your paper,” the letter said.
Of course, candidates have little control over their enthusiastic supporters, and occasionally some over zealous fan oversteps the bounds of legality in an attempt to help their candidate. In these cases, the illicit funds are usually returned when they are discovered and reported in the media.
There is nothing particularly unusual about foreign money finding its way into Presidential campaign coffers. You probably remember the problems Bill Clinton had with donations from Chinese citizens. Usually in these cases, the donors end up sitting in a jail cell while the politicians go their merry way with little negative consequences to their campaigns other than having to return the money. At least, good taste requires them to announce their intentions to return it.
Such has been the fate of several Clinton fund-raisers as well as Obama’s leading fund-raiser, Tony Rezko, who is currently awaiting sentencing on sixteen felony counts. Both the Obama campaign and Mrs. Okereki-Onyiuke were unequivocal in their denial of any unethical or illegal conduct. That should put an end to the matter. —Except for one little detail.
The Obama website, pa.barackobama.com, dedicated an entire page to an announcement of the fund-raising event, complete with an invitation to pledge. The title of the announcement was “Nigerians for Obama”, and contained this statement.
“We are gathering up to 4,000 people together for a fund raising to support OBAMA 08. The funds raised will be sent to the OBAMA campaign office as our own way of showing support for OBAMA since we are not eligible to vote as we are Nigerians based in Nigeria and not in America.”
The location for the event was given as:
“TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL, ABUJA, NIGERIA (Abuja, VA)
Abuja, VA 22003”
If, as Obama, and Mrs. Okereke-Onyiuke claim, there was never any intention to send the money collected to the Obama campaign, then we must conclude, at least, that they were conspirators in a fraud perpetrated on donors who were led to believe the funds would be contributed to the Obama campaign.
Just as difficult to believe is that almost a million dollars would be raised and spent in Nigeria just to get Nigerian citizens to call or write their family members living in American and encourage them to vote. A more likely scenario would be exactly what was promised in the announcement on Obama’s website.
Contributions to Obama campaigns have always proven to be a good investment for many organizations. Tony Rezko was responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars to Obama’s Illinois campaigns. In return Obama managed to direct some fourteen million dollars in state grants to various Rezko projects. Just a coincidence, of course. The same thing occurred with grants to Father Pfleger’s church and projects sponsored by Pastor Wright’s church.
In Obama’s proposed program to eliminate world poverty, he has promised to earmark billions to fight poverty in Africa. I am sure that prospect has nothing to do with the fund-raising by “Africans for Obama”, but you have to admit it does look suspicious.
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