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House Passes Bill Limiting Fundraising

Anita Kumar

The House of Delegates passed a bill, 83 to 12, that would ban donations made using untraceable prepaid credit cards that could mask a contributor's identity.

Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) said he introduced the bill after learning that then-Sen. Barack Obama (D) allowed donors to use the cards during the presidential campaign last year.

"It's not a looophole,'' Marshall said. "It's a grand cavern of exceptions for anonymous donations."

Twelve Democrats voted against the bill. Republicans are now expected to use the cards as an issue in this November's House elections, trying to paint a picture that Democrats are corrupt and do not mind illegal donations.

Obama's campaign had to explain why campaign finance reports included itemized donations from individuals using fake names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro, according to a Washington Post story. Those revelations prompted conservative bloggers to try to contribute to Obama by using prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore and cannot be traced to a donor.

The cards make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions. Virginia has no limits on contributions.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said this week on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio that Republicans who support such a ban are jealous of Obama's record fundraising.

By Anita Kumar  |  January 31, 2009; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Comments

In Virginia, it is already against the law for candidates to accept anonymous donations, regardless of the means by which the donations are made (cash, stored value card, money order, etc.)

Bob Marshall's bill, while perhaps well intended, singles out one donation method legitimately used (i.e.: *not* anonymously) disproportionately by thousands of low-income citizens who don't have credit cards or checking accounts, prefer not to mail cash, and prefer not to bear the additional expense and inconvenience of purchasing and mailing money orders.

We all support preventing anonymous donations, since they're already illegal, but I make no apologies for voting against a bill that discriminates against poor people who want to participate in the political process.

Del. David Englin, 45th District
www.davidenglin.org

Posted by: englin | January 31, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Delegate Englin. No more anonymous, made-up donations for you Democrats.

A money order would cost the following as copied and pasted from the usps.com.

Fees:

$0.01 to $500.00 .....................$1.05
$500.01 to $1,000.00 ................$1.50
Postal Military Money Orders…..$0.30 (issued by military facilities)

A stamp = $.42.

If someone can't afford to have a bank account of any kind and can't afford that buck-fifty for the money order, I'm afraid that they have enough other things to be worried about and that your house of delegates reelection campaign is probably not one of them.

The cost of campaign finance transparency is well-worth this minimal obstacle to a segment of the population unlikely to give a political donation.

Another Concerned Citizen

Posted by: AnotherConcernedCitizen | January 31, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Ps. Aren't you supposed to call Delegate Marshall by his title as a fellow member of our Commonwealth's greatest institution.

Posted by: AnotherConcernedCitizen | January 31, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

AnotherConcernedCitizen - As colleagues, Bob and I are on a first name basis. "Anonymous, made-up donations" are illegal now -- as they should be. Bob's bill wouldn't change that.

Del. David Englin, 45th District
www.davidenglin.org

Posted by: englin | February 2, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

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