GOP chairman calls on Holder to probe Obama campaign donations

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday demanding an investigation into online campaign contributions to the president's reelection campaign.

"[T]he President's campaign committee does not use the industry standard practices to guard against receiving fraudulent or excessive contributions via the internet," Priebus alleges in the letter. "As a result, the President's campaign committee is vulnerable to the receipt of prohibited contributions. Their failure to adhere to the industry standard has caused these questions regarding whether the campaign is deliberately inviting prohibited contributions."

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The Priebus letter is based on a report the Obama campaign has previously dismissed as "entirely false," written by a group that the president's reelection team has called "another right-wing front group posing as an independent watchdog."

"OFA [Obama for America] does not accept donations from foreign nationals or any other ineligible individual — and the campaign voluntarily goes above and beyond Federal Election Commitments to ensure the integrity of fundraising efforts," the Obama campaign said in a statement.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republicans have said that because the Obama campaign does not require donors to input a Card Verification Value — the three-digit number on the back of a credit card — there is a higher likelihood of fraudulent donations to the campaign. 

And they have suggested that because a large number of users accessing the president's campaign website come from abroad, that some of those donations could come from foreign nationals — a violation of election law. 

But the Obama campaign said in a statement earlier this week that the report cited by Priebus was the latest in a "pattern of peddling bogus news."

"The allegations made by Government Accountability Institute (GAI) are more reflective of the group’s politics than any grain of truth. GAI’s Chairman, Stephen Bannon, took over as executive chairman of Breitbart News and directed an anti-Obama movie released at the RNC by Citizens United," the Obama campaign said. "GAI President Peter Schweizer is a right-wing activist who advised Sarah Palin on foreign policy and worked as an editor for Breitbart News. The attorney hired by GAI to write their report, Ken Sukhia, shares an address with GAI, has “strong Republican ties,” and touts his work with Republicans on his own website."

The Obama campaign has also previously said that it regularly reviews donor rolls and returns donations that it suspects of being fraudulent. And the Obama campaign website explicitly states on the donation page that foreign nationals — along with feeder contractors, lobbyists, and minors, among others — are not permitted to donate to the campaign.

While the Romney campaign does require donors to input a CCV, more than one out of every 10 visitors to the Republican nominee's website also comes from "foreign sources."

Nevertheless, the letter from Priebus will likely elevate the issue. The RNC chairman tweeted about the letter Thursday morning, and the committee issued multiple press releases on his letter to Holder.

"This new report suggests that the president's campaign did not take the appropriate measures to correct for the vulnerabilities uncovered during the previous election cycle, in which reports surfaced that the president's campaign accepted a large number of excessive contributions and contributions from donors using fake names, suggesting a pattern of questionable behavior that is troubling," Priebus said.