Rep. Matt Gaetz is now taking on “zombie” political donors, following a report by journalist James O’Keefe that showed liberals may be participating in a money-laundering scheme to back Democratic candidates.
In a press release issued Wednesday, the Fort Walton Beach Republican said his “Put Zombie Donors to Rest Act” would revise the tax laws to require a billing address and credit verification value, or CVV code, for contributions to political organizations. It’s an effort to stop “fraudulent” campaign donations, the release said.
In the release, Gaetz cited a March 28 report by the O’Keefe Media Group, or OMG, the outlet O’Keefe started after he was forced from Project Veritas, that focused on a “national plot to utilize senior citizens matching a similar profile as vehicles to launder millions of dollars into political campaigns.”
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In one example from his video report, O’Keefe cited a Maryland man who had given roughly $217,000 spread over more than 12,000 contributions in just three years. The donations passed through the group Act Blue, which aggregates contributions and funnels them to Democratic candidates nationally.
“We’re wondering if these donors are victims of what appears to be a money-laundering scheme or if these residents actually participated in the scheme,” O’Keefe said.
The Daily Caller, which first reported on Gaetz’s bill, noted Wednesday that Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio had also taken an interest in this issue.
Last month, Rubio sent a letter to the Federal Elections Commission calling for an investigation into the activity covered by O’Keefe’s report.
These supposed donors, Rubio wrote, often have “no idea that their names and addresses were being used to give thousands of dollars in political donations, with most of these ‘donations’ going to ActBlue.
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It should come as no surprise that ActBlue serves as vessel for fraud, considering the intentional lack of security engrained within their donation processes and systems.”
In response, the FEC said it “does not impose requirements for specific safety or security guardrails that political committees must use to accept online donations,” the Daily Caller noted. That responsibility belongs to the political committees, because federal law does not require the FEC itself to comb through these donations.
Commenting on his bill, Gaetz said, “Through the diligent efforts of citizen journalists, O’Keefe Media Group has uncovered potentially millions of dollars in campaign donation fraud.”
“Unidentified entities or individuals are using the identities of American citizens to perpetrate fraudulent campaign contributions. Termed as ‘zombie donors,’ these fraudulent transactions exploit payment methods that possess scant or negligible identity authentication mechanisms.”
His “Put Zombie Donors to Rest Act,” he added, would amend the tax code to mandate a CVV, which is the three-digit code often found on the back of a credit or debit card, and a billing address as requirements to confirm a donor’s true identity.
In a statement, O’Keefe added, “The corporate press, who regularly combs through publicly available FEC data, had an opportunity to uncover this but did not. It took citizen journalists to not just flag the data but to corroborate findings in states across the country. Rep. Gaetz’s bill is a reminder of what journalism can do when in the hands of the people.”
“This story, however, is far from over and questions remain,” he added. “I look forward to transparency from Act Blue and other major credit card processors in our political system because through that transparency lies the answer of who may be the funders and architects of this scheme which targets senior citizens.”
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