Obama Fundraising May Have Violated RICO
AFL-CIO Attorney: “It is legally impossible to conduct a nationwide raffle”
by Bill Levinson
We recently sent a complaint to the Federal Election Commission with regard to the “Dinner with Barack” fundraising promotions of 2007 and 2008. The Center for Competitive Politics quoted AFSCME (part of AFL-CIO) associate general counsel Jessica Robinson on the use of raffles to raise money for political campaigns.
Ms. Robinson says unequivocally that it is impossible to legally conduct a nationwide raffle and furthermore that doing so violates the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute. Racketeering includes systematic violations of any state’s gambling laws.. This means there is excellent cause to remove Barack Obama from office without an extensive foray into the Twilight Zone to find his birth certificate. If Obama for America broke the law by running an illegal Internet gambling operation, and Minnesota law enforcement is on record as saying that it did, that is cause for impeachment. Here is what Ms. Robinson has to say in her own words:
- California (which does not permit the use of raffles for political fundraising) prohibits the use of the internet for raffle advertisements. Hawaii (and perhaps one other jurisdiction – Kansas, maybe?) strictly prohibits the use of lotteries for any purpose.
It is legally impossible to conduct a nationwide raffle, whether the funds are being used for political purposes or not. This, of course, is of great importance, because running an interstate gambling operation that does not comply with the laws in each state in which it is being conducted subjects you to both criminal and civil penalties under the Federal RICO statute.
The trick that keeps you out jail is to offer an ‘alternative method of entry’ that does not require payment of consideration.
The alternative method of entry was indeed implemented in mid-2008, but only after Minnesota law enforcement called the Obama campaign on the carpet.
- Doug Forsman, a special agent with Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, had confirmed the illegality of the promotion.
He gave the campaign two options, the newspaper said, to void the contest where such bans exist or to change the rules to allow people to participate without gambling any of their money.
Forsman confirmed Kendall Burman, staff counsel at Obama’s Chicago headquarters, informed him the “donation,” which had been a requirement earlier, would be made optional.
Prior to this less than voluntary modification of “Dinner with Barack” and “Backstage with Barack,” the Obama campaign sent out numerous E-mails (i.e. used the Internet to promote a raffle) and posted Web pages and YouTube videos that contain explicitly the three elements of a lottery:
(1) Required payment of consideration, a donation of $5 or more.
(2) Element of chance
(3) A prize (expenses-paid trip to have dinner with Obama)
While writing on unrelated matters, the Associate General Counsel of AFSCME stated very explicitly that it is impossible to run an interstate raffle while remaining within the law, and that “running an interstate gambling operation that does not comply with the laws in each state in which it is being conducted subjects you to both criminal and civil penalties under the Federal RICO statute.” “Dinner with Barack” violated the laws of at least one state (Minnesota) as stated explicitly by that state’s law enforcement agency and almost certainly violated the laws of others as shown above. The word IMPEACH therefore comes immediately to mind; we cannot have one U.S. Code for small-time Internet gambling operators like Patrick Patte of Wilkes-Barre and another U.S. Code for the President of the United States.
We have incidentally gotten numerous wet blanket commentary at Free Republic, like “Who is going to enforce this law against the President?” and “It will go nowhere.” It is telling, however, that NOT ONE NEGATIVE COMMENT DENIED THE INDICATED FACTS OR THE PROPOSITION THAT THE LAW WAS IN FACT VIOLATED BY THIS FUNDRAISING METHOD. That means there is a hell of a lot less controversy over this issue than there is over Obama’s birth certificate, and a cynic could even argue that Obama is himself stimulating the “birther” issue to divert attention from something that could get him removed from office.
Now we will answer the question, “Who is going to enforce this?”
(1) Any Member of Congress who wants to retire the Catastrophe in Chief early can propose a bill to impeach him. Then the Obamite Democrats will have to choose between removing him for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and putting their names behind conduct that could in fact constitute racketeering as described above.
(2) The issue can be placed in the court of public opinion like the “birther” issue, with the advantage is that one does not have to put on a tinfoil hat and follow Orly Taitz and Donald Trump into the Twilight Zone to look for Obama’s birth certificate. It is a fact that the “Dinner with Barack” promotions took place. It is a fact that they required payment of consideration, had an element of chance, and offered a prize. It is a fact that Minnesota law enforcement said explicitly that this violated the laws of Minnesota. It is a fact that California prohibits the advertisement of any lottery or raffle over the Internet, and so on.
(3) We are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, but RICO is civilly actionable for triple damages.