Obama, Gov. Blagojevitch, Chicago Politics, Corruption and Change

December 15, 2008

Illinois' Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich has been indicted for a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that includes his attempts to try to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. The federal indictment of Blagojevitch describes a series of kickbacks and extortion in which he demanded the "firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of Gov. Blagojevich." Obama, as an Illinois State Senator when Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002, was part of the Democratic leadership in Illinois. Both Obama and Blagojevich had financial help from real estate developer and fundraiser Tony Rezko, who is now in prison for "corrupt use of his power and influence." Obama's association with Rezko was well known. He even purchased his $1.5 million home the same day Rezko's wife purchased the adjoining lot. With the indictment of Gov. Blagojevich, Obama appears to be part of a major political scandal even before being sworn in as president.

That certainly would indicate we really are in for a major change from the low-key, law abiding George W. Bush, as Obama promised during his campaign. However, it may not be the "change" that most Americans had in mind when they voted for Obama.

The Obama campaign says that he raised $750 million for his presidential campaign with $656,610,810 of it, or 89% of it being in individual contributions. That compares with Republican John McCain's $370 million, less than half Obama's campaign war chest. McCain, of course, opted to limit his spending by taking public financing during the general election. By taking public money, he faced a limit of $84 million on what he could spend. Obama raised $66 million more than that in September alone. Is Barack Obama really that amazingly popular among Americans? Or, should we, perhaps, have paid a bit more attention to those few who were writing about the unanswered questions raised by Obama's money-raising "success?" Where did all that money really come from?

For example, one curious voter decided to do a little investigating himself by making contributions to Obama using his own credit card, but fictitious names. He wrote: "I've read recent reports of the Obama campaign receiving donations from dubious names and foreign locales and it got me wondering: How is this possible?

"I run a small internet business and when I process credit cards, I'm required to make sure the name on the card exactly matches the name of the customer making the purchase. Also, the purchaser's address must match that of the cardholder. If these don't match, then the payment isn't approved. Period. So how is it possible that the Obama campaign could receive donations from fictional people and places?

"I decided to do a little experiment. I went to the Obama campaign website and entered the following:

"Name: John Galt
Address: 1957 Ayn Rand Lane
City: Galts Gulch
State: CO
Zip: 99999

"I then checked the $15 donation box and entered my actual credit card number and expiration date. The website did not ask for the 3-digit verification code on the back of the card. Instead, I was sent to the next page which displayed:

"Your donation has been processed. Thank you for your generous gift."

"This simply should not, and could not, happen in any business or any campaign that is honestly trying to confirm the legitimacy of its donors. Furthermore, I don't see how this could possibly happen without some kind of help from a credit card company. Card companies as a rule simply do not allow any business to process credit card transactions where the name on the card doesn't match the purchaser's name.

"In short, under the current Obama contribution system setup, any eager friend from any country can contribute unlimited amounts of money by simply making up fake names and addresses.

"And Obama's system is set up to facilitate this fraud. This is truly scandalous. It took a few days to confirm, but as of this morning, four charges have posted to my Credit Card account under four separate names. I used following names: John Galt, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Bill Ayers.

He posted the Credit Card statement showing the four charges on his bill. Frankly, having been involved myself with the Internet since 1994, I simply do not believe that any candidate anywhere, much less a new name in national politics, could raise $750 million in small donations in a year's time. I suspect that much of that money did come, as some have claimed, from overseas areas, i.e. Saudi Arabia.

Even the Obama-supporting Washington Post, five days before the election, questioned Obama's fund-raising as follows:

"Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed."

The majority of the voters on November 4th were not at all interested in hearing anything negative about their chosen leader. Even in my own family, there were voters who simply did not want to hear about his background in corrupt, Chicago politics, and his close association with people like now imprisoned Tony Rezko, now indicted Governor Blagojevich, former Weatherman terrorist, Bill Ayers, or Rev. Wright and his Black Liberation theology.

It now appears, however, that will know a lot more about the new president the voters have elected, from indictments, court records and criminal defense attorneys trying to defend Obama's friends and financial advisers than we have from the media.

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Copyright ©2008 Mary Mostert