Back when Elton John put on a concert for Hillary Clinton, we learned that presidential candidates cannot take money from foreign donors. But Barack Obama and John McCain won't let a silly rule get in the way of their fundraising momentum. A little investigating by the Associated Press revealed that both candidates accept overseas money, saving the crucial details for later.
Out of 123 overseas donors interviewed, only five said that either the McCain or Obama camp asked to see their passports as required by the FEC. In addition, three non-citizens had successfully donated to Obama. One Canadian Obama fan even wrote a note with his donation that said, "I am not an American citizen!" The contribution (and the note!) got entered into Obama's records. To see how other foreign money sneaks in, read more.
Other donors take a sneaky approach, entering fake passport numbers when they give online. After the AP uncovered the errors, the Obama campaign said it would return the money.
Hoping to ward off foreign influence, campaign finance laws allow candidates to accept contributions only from citizens or green card holders. But the sheer amount of donors makes it difficult for the candidates to follow the letter of that law. McCain's camp admits it's unfeasible to ask overseas web-donors to send copies of their passports. Should the official policy adopt the "honor system" routine practiced by both candidates?