One of the favorite talking points of the acolytes of the Church of St. Barack is that the holy one never got himself involved in a scandal during his eight years in the White House. In fact, the holy one is often fond of repeating it himself.
“We didn’t have a scandal that embarrassed us,” he said during an appearance at MIT earlier this year. There were certainly blunders, he conceded, “but there wasn’t anything venal in eight years.”
You didn’t come for a book-length rant on just how wrong that statement is, although I could certainly write one. Perhaps there was a Freudian slip at play there; there were certainly scandals — Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the Obamacare website, Lois Lerner, Solyndra, the VA — but he didn’t let himself be embarrassed by them and refused to let the disciples in his inner circle feel a twinge of mortification. Being the holy one means never having to say you’re sorry.
While all of these scandals still deserves examination even though Obama is no longer in office, I’d like to look at one in particular: One of the largest fines in campaign finance violation history.
In 2013, Obama’s 2008 campaign was hit with a $375,000 fine for campaign reporting violations, according to Politico.
“The major sticking point for the FEC appeared to be a series of missing 48-hour notices for nearly 1,300 contributions totaling more than $1.8 million — an issue that lawyers familiar with the commission’s work say the FEC takes seriously,” Maggie Haberman reported at the time, back during her Politico days.
“The notices must be filed on contributions of $1,000 or more that are received within the 20-day window of Election Day.
“More than half of those contributions were transferred from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint committee between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.”
Other violations included erroneous contribution dates and late returns on contributions which exceeded the legal limit.
Why are we talking about this now? Well, we now seem to be in a mass kerfuffle over whether Trump’s non-disclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels, which was done through then-lawyer Michael Cohen, may have violated campaign finance laws.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat who will soon be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, thought this revelation during Cohen’s sentencing was essentially insta-peachment material as far as he was concerned.
“They would be impeachable offenses. Whether they’re important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question,” Nadler said on CNN Sunday.
“Certainly, they’re impeachable offenses, because, even though they were committed before the President became President, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office.”
Whether or not an NDA payment needs to be reported as a contribution or whether directing the payment through an intermediary with your own money constitutes a crime is a sticky area of law, and it’s usually something that warrants a fine. It’s different because Donald Trump is directly involved as opposed to Barack Obama’s indirect involvement.
On the other hand, Obama’s was indeed a huge fine — “It may one of their (the Federal Election Commission) top five- or 10-largest fines,” Republican election lawyer Jason Torchinsky said at the time.
But no, we’re mostly inclined to go along with the “squeaky-clean” narrative when it comes to the sainted one, inasmuch as it confirms the media’s biases toward him. As we’re talking about campaign finance violations, however, we might want to indicate that controversies in this department aren’t necessarily germane to the current president, and they’ve been done on a much larger scale. Dare I say that qualifies as “venal?”
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