October 14, 2012

Jack Kelly Sunday

Post-Gazette conservative columnist Jack Kelly and his columns are well known to the readers of this blog.  He's long known as one who skimps on delivering all the facts or (OR!) just making stuff up as he goes along - all while somehow avoiding the rigorous fact-checking necessary for a political column at such a prestigious newspaper.

This Sunday's column is no exception.  Here's how he starts:
It's illegal to solicit contributions from foreigners, but citizens of China, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Egypt have received emails seeking donations to President Barack Obama's campaign, according to the Government Accountability Institute, a private think tank.

Shanghai-based is the largest of "thousands" of foreign websites which link to President Obama's official site. It's owned by Robert Roche, a businessman with ties to the Chinese government and a frequent guest at the White House. Contributions from Americans living in China are legal. But, according to Markosweb, 68 percent of's traffic is from foreigners. The website is mostly in Chinese characters.

The Obama campaign doesn't require online donors to provide a CVV (the three digit number on the back of your credit card), as the Romney campaign and nearly all businesses and charities do. The fraud protection measure was omitted because the Obama campaign doesn't want to discourage small donors, a spokesman said.
Here's the GAI report, in case you wanted to check his work.

Let's get Jack's easiest mistake out of the way.  He's relying on the GAI report for information on and he asserts quite unmistakably that it's "owned by Robert Roche."  However on page 66 of that same report it says just as unmistakably:
It remains unclear whether or not Roche himself continues to own
As of September, 2008 was registered to Roche. About 2 years later (as in about 2 years ago) that registration was changed.

I found this error in about 30 minutes.  Isn't this something Jack's fact-checkers at the P-G should just as easily have caught?

However, let's get to the substance of Jack's argument, here.  Reading between the lines he's saying that not only is the Obama Campaign soliciting donations from foreign nationals but that it's accepting those donations.  That's what he wants you to come away with after reading his column on "Obama Campaign Scandals."

But does the report he's relying on actually say that?  Not according to David Weigel of
Last week the Internet learned of a coming expose of possible foreign money coming into the Obama campaign and other campaigns. The report, from Peter Schweizer's Government Accountability Institute, is up, and... not conclusive. How could it be? Schweizer's researchers spent six months trying to figure out what protections existed to keep illegal foreign donations out of American campaigns. But they ran up against the same fog as Michael Isikoff in a similar, shorter look at weird money to Obama from "Good Will" and "Doodad Pro." You can't easily determine whether a foreign national has given a donation. This report includes a series of blog posts from foreigners talking about the ease of giving, but not saying that they've actually given.
And what does Jack use as his final piece of evidence showing that the Obama campaign is circumventing campaign finance laws? In writing about how the Obama campaign doesn't require the CVV (the three digits on the back of the credit card) for identification he adds this:
The CVV also guards against what happened to Mary Biskup of Manchester, Missouri. When FEC records indicated she'd given $174,800 to Mr. Obama's 2008 campaign, The Washington Post called her, because it is illegal to give more than $2,300. She hadn't ever contributed to Mr. Obama, Ms. Biskup said. "Her credit card was never billed for the donations, meaning someone appropriated her name and made the contributions with another card," the Post noted.
But, as is Jack's habit, he leaves out the biggest part of this 4 year old story:
Now comes the story of Mary T. Biskup, of Manchester, Missouri. Biskup got a call recently from the Obama campaign, which was trying to figure out why she donated $174,800 to the campaign -- well over the contribution limit of $2,300.

The answer she gave them was simple. "That's an error."

Biskup, a retired insurance manager who occasionally submits recipes to the local paper, says someone used a credit card to donate the money in her name. No charges ever showed up on her credit card statement.
Wait, the OBAMA CAMPAIGN called her?  What happened then?  This:
Obama's campaign spotted the irregular donations, more than 70 of which all arrived on the same day, and aides to the senator said they refunded the money. The campaign began investigating immediately.

"As we reviewed our contributions and the more than 100,000 pages of our report, we noticed repeat donations from one contributor and proactively contacted the donor to verify whether the contributions were appropriate," said Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman. "We refunded all of the contributions and contacted authorities when we determined Ms. Biskup had not made them. While no organization is protected from internet fraud - John McCain was forced to refund more than $1.2 million in contributions and has accepted contributions from non-existent donors like 'Jesus II' -- our review system caught and rectified this issue." [Emphasis added.]
None of which Jack Kelly deemed necessary to tell you.

But it changes his entire argument, doesn't it?

He then drudges up this well-debunked lie:
The president plans to gut Medicare Advantage to help pay for Obamacare, which goes fully into effect in January. Medicare recipients this year must choose their plan for next year, so when "open enrollment" begins Oct. 15, the 11.7 million seniors enrolled in it should be told what's going to happen to Medicare Advantage.
And this is what the LATimes said about his this:
The president’s healthcare law does reduce future spending on Medicare, but those savings are obtained by reducing federal payments to insurance companies, hospitals and other providers, and do not affect benefits for people in the Medicare program.
And yet Jack was writing as if they did.

Facts matter, especially now.  Can't someone at the P-G get some into Jack Kelly's columns?


EdHeath said...

Good post, well researched. Just an additional thought. I work with credit cards for a living, have done for roughly ten years. The CVV code seems like it gets asked for so routinely it seems worthless as a security measure. It sits there in the databases of the credit card processing companies, the places that are the biggest targets for computer criminals.

The story that it was the Obama campaign that found fraudulent donations is like an eerie echo of the whole ACORN thing. It almost sounds like Republicans (because they have money, right?) donated money to expose it later, and the Obama campaign caught it first. But then the conservative media (Jack Kelly and (Breitbart, WND) friends) goes ahead and just reports the donations, not who discovered them.

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

Know anything about Credit Card AVS that the Obama campaign uses for credit card transactions when you buy something from their store but not for donations.
this 4 year old story:
Yet strangely the Obama campaign still have Credit card AVS disabled and says trust us that the donation is not from a foreign source.
Thom Hartmann claims that Reagan promised to sell Iran weapons if they kept the hostages.

Using the same logic the Obama campaign promised to sell the Mexican drug cartels weapons using Fast and Furious to get donations through the AVS disabled donation website.