Barack Obama: Whose Money Is This?

Blame Barry Eisler. He sent out a MySpace Bulletin with the Chabon link. As usual, I start trouble by being curious.

Michael Chabon wrote a rather irritating OpEd in the Washington Post endorsing Obama. (Where was his optimism when Nader ran? Can he say with a straight face he supported Kerry? Can anyone?)

obama08.jpg

So, I decided to go to Obama’s site. The first thing I am hit with is a screen to sign up and an autoplay video with a pitch from Obama himself. This does not win my affection.

I trim the URL to bypass the unwanted invite and get into the main site (how many regular people would know to do that?).

I am on a mission. If Obama is so damned great, who is funding him?

I go through 13 pages of FAQ, most of which is about his political positions, how to send him money, and how to buy his schwag(!). Really! Obama has merch. (And he assures us in the FAQ with a Yes that it is Union Made. Uhhhh… is that American Union? That’s not specified. Odd that no one asked if the merch is Made In America!)

OK, this list of contributors thing just isn’t happening. It’s not one of the Qs in FAQ. And, really, why should I send an email that might take days to get a reply — if ever (hello, Dubai! I’m looking at you!).

So I go to the Federal Elections Committee and look up Obama.

Scrolling down the list of contributors, something stands out right away:

ACCOUNTER – 30,523.34

Most of the contributions up to that point were four-figure. This is the first five-figure one.

So who is this? I Google and come up empty. How is that possible? A thirty-thousand dollar contribution is not pocket change. It has to come from some company that should be easily found via Google. Why isn’t it? Who is this?

ALLSCRIPTS – 11,030.00

This company is found via Google. They do electronic medical records. But at the time of writing this, their website refuses to load.

Here’s something interesting:

ALSTEN&BIRD – 750.00
ALSTON & BIRD – 1,500.00
ALSTON & BIRD LLP – 5,189.87
ALSTON & BIRD, LLP – 500.00
ALSTON AND BIRD – 1,000.00
ALSTON HUNT FLOYD & ING – 3,000.00
ALSTON& BIRD LLP – 100.00

Through the magic of creative typing, one firm is shown as several, thus spreading the total contribution apart. This is a law firm.

The same thing happens with Apple:

APPLE – 1,391.89
APPLE INC – 2,400.00
APPLE INC. – 705.00
APPLE, INC. – 527.80

Bank of America — the company that wanted to give credit cards to illegal aliens — puts in a big lump:

BANK OF AMERICA – 14,535.00

Bryan Cave, a law firm, gave big too:

BRYAN CAVE – 250.00
BRYAN CAVE LLP – 9,386.00
BRYAN CAVE, LLC – 200.00

That’s pretty sweet, how they can drop the corporation designation, then use LLP, then use LLC to mask three contributions.

Here’s a neat trick too:

CENTAURUS – 4,600.00
CENTAURUS ENERGY – 6,900.00
CENTAURUS ENERGY MANAGEMENT COMPANY – 2,300.00

What’s especially neat is that they have a one-page website. Yet they can give over ten-thousand dollars? Oh I see. It’s doesn’t make energy. It’s a hedge fund. Remember that name. I’m sure it will make headlines. Bad ones.

It helps to have many divisions. I guess this is why the Suits just love mergers.

CITI – 1,600.00
CITI GROUP GLOBAL MARKETS, INC – 500.00
CITI PRIVATE BANK – 250.00
CITI SMITH BARNEY – 500.00
CITIBANK – 880.73
CITIGROUP – 21,850.79
CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS – 1,000.00
CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS INC. – 150.00
CITIGROUP GLOBAL MARKETS LTD. – 2,300.00
CITIGROUP INC – 100.00

Yeah, this multi-division thing is really sweet:

COLDWELL BANK – 1,500.00
COLDWELL BANKER – 7,497.42
COLDWELL BANKER BAIN – 500.00
COLDWELL BANKER BURNET – 929.00
COLDWELL BANKER GUNDAKER – 100.00
COLDWELL BANKER MCKENZIE – 150.00
COLDWELL BANKER REAL ESTATE – 107.95

Look at this! Government can get in on it too:

COMMONWEALTH OF MA – 1,200.00
COMMONWEALTH OF MASS – 250.00
COMMONWEALTH OF MASS. – 1,550.00
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS – 3,482.59
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS – GOVERN – 1,000.00
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS EASTERN – 200.00

Hey, Suits! Abbreviations can be your friend!

Damn. Even typos are good:

COVINGTON & BURLING – 18,550.00
COVINGTON & BURLING LLP – 2,839.70
COVINGTON AND BURTING – 500.00

Using a T instead of L is pretty neat. Just blame it on the damned temp who had to type it in. And it is a typo. Ain’t no Covington & Burting. It’s Covington & Burling, a law firm.

Lawyers like to give:

CRAVATH SWAINE & MOORE – 2,300.00
CRAVATH, SLUAINE & MOORE LLP – 1,300.00
CRAVATH, SWAINE & MOORE LLP – 5,850.00

Wow. Give it up for that typo: LU for W! Another law firm. They’re biggies, even legendary.

Another biggie:

CREDIT SUISSA – 250.00
CREDIT SUISSE – 25,350.00

Another typo. Here’s some more:

DEBELOISE & PLIMPTON LLP – 2,300.00
DEBEVOISE – 300.00
DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON – 1,400.00
DEBEVOISE & PLIMPTON LLP – 4,750.00

Of course, another law firm.

Again, having lots of bits to make up your company can go far:

DELOITTE – 1,050.00
DELOITTE & TOUCHE – 925.00
DELOITTE & TOUCHE LLP – 250.00
DELOITTE CONSULTING – 1,375.00
DELOITTE CONSULTING LLC – 75.00
DELOITTE CONSULTING LLP – 1,250.00
DELOITTE FAS – 500.00
DELOITTE FAS LLP – 200.00
DELOITTE SERVICES LP – 500.00
DELOITTE TAX LLP – 552.00
DELOITTE TAX, LLP – 1,000.00
DELOITTE TOUCHE TOHMATSU – 550.00

Here’s an eye-opener:

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE – 4,815.82

Ah, so this is where tuition money goes (nah, it’s probably alumni bequest money):

DEPAUL UNIVERSITY – 5,905.59
DEPAUL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW – 100.00
DEPAUL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW & SEL – 100.00

Oh look who likes Obama too:

DEUTSCHE BANK – 11,429.50
DEUTSCHE BANK AG – 500.00
DEUTSCHE BANK SECURITIES INC – 13,800.00
DEUTSCHEBANK – 300.00

Wow. Look at this consecutive sequence of fortuitous typos:

DEWEY & LABERUF LLP – 250.00
DEWEY & LEBOEUF – 1,300.00
DEWEY & LEBOEUF LLP – 100.00
DEWEY BALLANTINE LLP – 15.00
DEWEY BALLEN FINE LLP – 2,300.00
DEWEY LEBOEUF – 500.00

I’ve only gotten to the Ds but I think I’ve found the most interesting Obama contributor. Digital Gravel, Inc.

DIGITAL GRAVEL, INC. – 250.00

They offer this T-shirt for sale:

wmns_retiredup_cpmplete01.jpg

Detail:

wmns_retiredup_cpmplete02.jpg

It’s called: FIFTY24SF: ‘Grotesk 01’ women’s t-shirt.

Sorry, no direct link to the shirt, but here’s the one to the JPEG.. (And I took a screensnap Just In Case it mysteriously disappears. Like Saddam did — down some rat hole.)

This T-shirt is particularly interesting because of what our own government asserts:

A TSA [transportation security officer] told me that coming to a US airport with Arabic words on my T-shirt was equivalent to visiting a bank while wearing a shirt that read “I’m a robber”.

If Obama wore it, would they think he’s a terrorist?

This is the first time I’ve ever looked into an FEC statement.

More tomorrow, if I’m not busy with other things. (God, I hope I will be!)

In the meantime, if anyone from the Obama campaign happens to read this, just who or what is “Accounter?”

obamaslogan.jpg

I believe I’d like an answer. (I’m sure it’s nothing nefarious. But as you can see, I hate mysteries.)

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13 Comments on “Barack Obama: Whose Money Is This?”

  1. Randy Green Says:

    This was a really interesting article. I’d love to see more!!!

  2. cozumelkid Says:

    If he is a converted Muslem, he probably be looking over his shoulder. They kill converts.

  3. mikecane Says:

    I honestly don’t know anything about Obama other than:

    1) He was called “Barack Hussein Obama” by campaign callers for an opposition candidate

    2) He is running for President.

    I really *haven’t* paid attention to the campaign, as I explained here:

    https://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/the-presidential-candidate-you-laughed-at/

  4. ramin Says:

    Mike. A few points:

    1) That’s raw FEC data you’ve been staring at. A lot of those employer name discrepancies come about because the information is often entered by donors themselves (when done online) or by data-entry clerks. A clear case of GIGO. The campaign usually just passes that data on to the FEC.

    2) Companies wanting to hide their contributions have a large number of PACs and 527’s they can funnel the funds through. They don’t need to resort to crass typographical gimmicks. Law firms, in particular can get into a lot of trouble if they deliberately try to circumvent donation limits. It’s just not worth the risk. I think you’re reading too much into this.

    3) Most campaigns don’t bother checking where the money’s coming from until someone does a story about a shady donor. Then all they have to do is return the money. The t-shirt guy isn’t breaking any law making up or selling crass t-shirts. He also sells a lot of other stuff. It’s a pretty long stretch saying a campaign donor’s lack of taste directly reflects on the candidate’s positions.

    4) Gauging a donor purely based on their online presence is just plain silly. It smacks a little too much of Google-itis. Most of the known world *doesn’t* do business online. They don’t need to. Just because it’s not on Google doesn’t disqualify them or make them fishy.

    5) There are a bunch of organizations whose job is to take that data, massage it, then analyze and collate it and make sure they track subsequent changes and amendments. For example, they take the ’employer’ field that’s part of the FEC reports and normalize it, so a lot of those name discrepancies fall away. A good one is OpenSecrets (http://www.opensecrets.org). They offer data on just about every race and even go back a few cycles for historical data.

    Here’s a link to their presidential 2008 campaign page (http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/index.asp?cycle=2008). Once you click on the candidate name, you can see donor stats based on industry, interest groups, etc. If you want a bone to pick with any candidate there’s plenty there to pick off (http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.asp?id=N00009638&cycle=2008).

    A telling statistic is in this chart: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/select.asp?cycle=2008 (you can pick the industry from the pop-up). Shows you which industries give the most to which candidate.

    I’m not a big Obama groupie, but I also don’t think it’s fair to ding a candidate based on a first-pass at some raw FEC filings. God knows, there’s plenty to ding them on based on their policies :-)

  5. mikecane Says:

    Ah, you’re reading too much into what I did. I was just curious. But I do wonder about “Accounter.” I can’t help it. As for the typos, tongue was planted in cheek.

    And as for the T-shirt: Who cares? The company’s name was there, it was interesting (digital gravel?!!?), so I clicked to look.

    Thanks for the great comment! A lot of good info there.

  6. Nancy Says:

    Are you sure that the money has been given form those comapnies directly. When I donated to a candidate I had to type in the place of my employment and my job title. Some of those small amounts $100 and under seem kinda weird for a big company to give.
    In fact I just checked the site you were looking at and it is not donations from the companies but a list of contributions by employer. Read the top . CONTRIBUTIONS BY EMPLOYER

  7. mikecane Says:

    Yes, thanks for pointing that out. Do not take the post that seriously.

  8. Brian Terp Says:

    That last post by Nancy sort of invalidates the entire page, then. Why even have the page? I suppose intellectual honesty is beneath you.

  9. mikecane Says:

    This isn’t Daily Kos, pal.

  10. kulli Says:

    So what does the arabian text on the shirt mean?

  11. mikecane Says:

    I have no idea. A guess would be “Saddam Hussein.”

  12. kulli Says:

    M’kay. I asked cause I just bought that shirt. :D Got to find out..

  13. mikecane Says:

    Wikipedia shows his name written in Arabic:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein

    I don’t know enough about how Arabian calligraphy cam embellish characters (something that always frustrated me with Japanese characters, by the way).


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