The Federal Election Commission has launched an audit into President Barack Obama’s record-breaking 2008 campaign.
Individuals familiar with the campaign told Roll Call Friday that the FEC has been investigating the financial records of Obama’s previous campaign. The scope of the probe, which began approximately two years ago, is unknown. Presidential audits typically take years to complete and can cost millions of dollars.
The newly formed 2012 Obama campaign did not deny there was an audit, but a spokeswoman called it a “review.”
“The FEC is conducting a routine review — as is true with the McCain Campaign, the Romney Campaign and many others — to determine if they have any questions with the information reported,” said Katie Hogan, deputy press secretary for the campaign. “Given that there was an historic number of contributors and contributions — nearly four million and over nine million respectively — this takes time.”
Nice spin. The FEC was required by law to audit the McCain campaign because McCain opted to receive public financing. Obama had originally vowed to do the same, but reneged, therefore, the FEC is not required to audit his campaign.
Yet they are.
FEC spokespeople would not confirm the audit of Obama’s 2008 bid or say why the agency used its discretion to launch its investigation. But the decision came in the wake of Republican allegations of illegal contributions, as well as dozens of letters from the agency questioning transactions that appeared out of compliance with campaign finance laws.
The FEC’s decision to audit the campaign is not surprising, given that it was the largest federal campaign in history, raising more than $750 million in receipts. If Obama’s campaign were not audited, it would have been the first presidential nominee’s campaign to escape such scrutiny since the public financing system was created in 1976.
The potential for the FEC’s audit became increasingly more likely as the FEC questioned some of Obama campaign filings. In all, the FEC wrote 26 letters to Obama for America warning the campaign that if it did not adequately respond to the agency’s questions that it “could result in an audit or enforcement action.”
These letters totaled more than 1,500 pages of questions and data that outlined compliance concerns — including the longest one ever sent to a presidential candidate.
Hat tip: Brian B.