Obama campaign to pay $375,000 fine for omitting some donor’s names in 2008

January 4, 2013

President Obama’s campaign has agreed to pay a $375,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission, among the largest penalties in the agency’s history.

The fine was imposed after an audit of the campaign’s books showed that it failed to report the identities of donors who gave large checks in the weeks before the 2008 election, according to a copy of the agreement between the FEC and the president’s campaign.

The document shows that the Obama campaign failed to disclose the identities of donors responsible for $2 million in contributions in the weeks ahead of the election. The campaign also misreported the dates of $85 million in other contributions.

In addition, the Obama campaign also kept $1.3 million in contributions that were above the legal maximum allowed for a federal campaign, failing to return them within the 60 days required by law. The campaign kept almost $874,000 of those donations until the FEC discovered they were unlawful.

“The 2008 campaign was a record-breaking campaign with over 3 million grass-roots donors,” said Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for the campaign. “The very few outstanding questions have now all been resolved.”

The $375,000 fine is the largest collected by the FEC in the past five years. It ranks within the top 15 fines since 1980, according to a list on the agency’s Web site.

The Republican National Committee had charged in the midst of Obama’s 2008 race against Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) that the Democrat’s campaign was improperly accepting foreign money and taking donations over the legal limits. In a partial vindication for the Obama campaign, the FEC did not fine Obama for taking any foreign money, according to the document.

The RNC released the document, first reported by Politico, on Friday afternoon after receiving it in an official response from the FEC.

Obama raised about $750 million during the 2008 campaign, shattering all records for political fundraising. His campaign roughly matched that amount again in 2012, even though he did not face a major opponent in the primary.

Obama’s campaign will be required to return the excess money to its donors or, failing that, hand it over to the U.S. Treasury.

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