NY Times falsehood: pro-Obama PAC allows supporters to break legal contribution limits

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The lead sentence of an August 7 New York Times article on Vote Hope, a political action committee that says it "intend[s] to deliver California for Barack Obama" in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, asked: "Have some of Senator Barack Obama's supporters figured out how to give more than the $2,300 legal maximum to back their candidate?" The article's claim -- that Vote Hope donors who have already given the maximum to Obama's campaign directly are exceeding legal limits "to back their candidate" -- is false. The $2,300 figure cited by the article is the maximum supporters can donate to a candidate's primary or general election campaign, not to "back their candidate," as the Times reported. As the article later makes clear, Vote Hope was "formed by supporters independent of the Obama campaign" and "cannot coordinate with the Obama campaign," and donors can contribute a maximum of $5,000 to the group, in accordance with campaign finance law.

From the August 7 New York Times article headlined "Digging Deep for Obama," originally published on August 6 on the Times' "The Caucus" weblog:

Have some of Senator Barack Obama's supporters figured out how to give more than the $2,300 legal maximum to back their candidate?

In a report filed last week to the Federal Election Commission, Vote Hope, a political action committee formed by supporters independent of the Obama campaign, identified its first 27 donors. Thirteen of them, mostly wealthy Californians, had also given the maximum allowed, $2,300, to Mr. Obama for the Democratic primary, and three others had given lesser amounts.

Experts say Vote Hope represents a new wrinkle in fund-raising through which donors could more than double what they put up to help a candidate, and that is likely to grow more controversial as the gifts mount. Under federal law, donors can give $2,300 for the primary and $2,300 for the general election, while also giving $5,000 to a group like Vote Hope.

The key is that the group, which has raised $108,000 toward its $2 million goal, cannot coordinate with the Obama campaign. The group wants to encourage blacks, Latinos and young people to vote. But it also wants to tap into their enthusiasm for Mr. Obama by delivering 500,000 votes for him in the Feb. 5 primary, even though Mr. Obama has maintained his distance from the group.

The committee is headed by Steve Phillips, a lawyer who has also raised $215,000 for another voter-outreach effort. He is the son-in-law of Herb Sandler, a major Democratic patron. Mr. Sandler has not contributed to either group, records show.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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