Gibberish About Gibberish (UPDATED)

New right-wing talking point: Obama is collecting money—maybe hundreds of millions of dollars—from illegal foreign donors!! The fact that some of his donor spreadsheets contain fake entries proves this ridiculous leap of faith!

Yeah—or a bunch of idiots just entered gibberish into the donation form on Obama’s website. And, most likely, that data went into a spreadsheet that got submitted to the FEC, gibberish and all.

With an operation as big as Obama’s, it’s probable that not all credit card information was verified and not all credit card donations were processed before the FEC’s filing deadline. It’s likely the Obama campaign just took the data collected through their website and sent it to the FEC without thoroughly checking it first, in order to report the highest amount of donations possible for that fundraising period.

But here’s the important part–those gibberish donations aren’t going to translate into actual money for the Obama campaign. Because when some Obama campaign worker sits down with the data and tries to actually run the credit card numbers and get the money, it’s not going to work; all those gibberish submissions are going to have to be thrown out.

See, it’s going to be impossible for them to get the money from these gibberish donors, because you have to have the actual name on the credit card and the actual address it’s registered at to get money from that card, and (obviously) nobody out there has a credit card actually belonging to ‘Hbkjb, jkbkj’ who lives in the city of ‘Jkbjnj’

So, again, none of these fake submissions are going to translate into money for the Obama campaign; all they will amount to is a lot of wasted time and effort spent checking and erasing garbage donation pledges.

But hey, never let the facts stand in the way of your talking points, right?

UPDATE: It should be noted that, often times, presidential campaign donations are handled by a ‘caging firm’–a business devoted to receiving donor information, collecting that money from the donors, and weeding out potential frauds or otherwise suspicious donations. So keep in mind that the Obama campaign itself might not be handling any of these donations–their caging firm probably is.

UPDATE II: Above I (apparently incorrectly) assumed this information was coming from the FEC. But that doesn’t appear to actually be the case.

Conservatives are calling for Obama to release the names and information of his small donors, which isn’t information you can get from the FEC (because small donors don’t have to be reported to the FEC)

So, if the Obama campaign hasn’t released the information from their small donors, then where is this supposed information coming from? What are these amateur conservative ‘investigators’ actually looking at?

I mean, I’m not seeing any screenshots of spreadsheets,I’m not seeing links to some kind of donor database. Where is all this coming from, exactly?

UPDATE III: Found it:

On July 19th, 2008, at 4:57 AM, conservative blogger Pam Geller posted this on her blog, Atlas Shrugs:

John Jay has been assisting me in analyzing small foreign contributions to Obama’s campaign that Atlas reader Laura sent me. It appears to be, after cross checking FEC documents, a list of the Obama For America Contributors.

On its face, the list (under 500 pages) is suspect. So many foreign addresses giving money to the Presidential campaign. There are numerous  individuals who are “bundling” contributions, some are smaller from the same person on same day, not to mention lots “unemployed or student”.  Further,  there’s a ton of  foreign service and State Department admissions.

[Emphasis mine]

Yeah, no kidding it’s suspect–but not for the reasons you seem to think.

This is the source of these very serious allegations? How do we know this mysterious spreadsheet is even real? How do we know it actually exists, let alone accurately portrays donations that were actually made to the Obama campaign?

Geller says she verifies it by cross-checking the names on her list to names of Obama donors on the FEC website. But what would stop someone from just copying and pasting valid donors from the FEC website into an Excel spreadsheet, adding a bunch of fake gibberish/foreign donations, then sending it out in order to drum up this ridiculous story?

There is no proof that any entries in Geller’s supposed spreadsheet are real donations to Obama, or even attempted donations.  And until this mysterious spreadsheet is produced and verified as donations that were actually made to the Obama campaign (and that the money was actually spent), this story has no credibility.

(Though, this is a perfect example of how the right-wing media works–conservative blogs push ridiculous stories with no credibility, which are then picked up by right-wing media outlets looking for the next big story).

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