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Monday, April 2, 2012

Obama Campaign Fail: Top Bundler Accused of Fraud

Obama Campaign Fail: Top Bundler Accused of Fraud:

The Washington Post reported Saturday that a major Obama bundler has been accused of fraud.
New Yorker Abake Assongba has pledged to help President Obama win reelection, and as one of his 400 volunteer fundraisers, she has delivered $50,000 to the cause. But she is also trailed by some controversy, accused in court of defrauding a businessman out of $657,000, impersonating a bank official and dodging creditors.
The fraud case is ongoing, though that may not be the biggest problem Assongba has. She and her husband run a children's charity which is supposedly doing work in the nation of Benin, including building a new school. However, investigation into the charity by the Post makes it look a bit fishy:
When a reporter for The Post visited the address the charity lists for its Benin headquarters, the office was closed. A man who said he was the foundation’s African coordinator said by telephone that the office had been closed for a time while he was ill. He declined to identify the location of the school the foundation built and said the director of the office travels frequently and was not available.
Meanwhile, Assonga and her husband reportedly built themselves a $2 million dollar home in Florida. But the real issue here is that the Obama campaign doesn't appear to be doing much to scrutinize its top donors:
In Assongba’s case, nothing prompted the campaign to turn her away. But even a cursory look into her background reveals that Assongba does not fit the typical mold of a well-to-do bundler. Assongba, who declined to comment, is dogged by a collection agency and a court order to pay more than $10,000 in unpaid rent for her former Brooklyn apartment, court records show.
This unpaid rent case is something that an ordinary background check should have turned up. The White House response is that over 1.3 million people have donated to the campaign, but as the Post points out Assongba is on a list of just 400 or so big money donors. Given that this is the second time the campaign has been caught out on a story like this (they returned $200,000 from the brothers of a Mexican casino owner in February), it seems vetting of top bundlers is something the Obama campaign has decided to leave to the media.