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Washington - Top Obama Campaign Donor Accused Of Fraud

Published on: April 1, 2012 08:37 PM
By: AP
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Washington - A major donor to President Barack Obama has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official, creating new headaches for Obama’s re-election campaign as it deals with the questionable history of another top supporter.

The New York donor, Abake Assongba, has contributed more than $50,000 to Obama’s re-election effort this year, federal records show. But Assongba is also fending off a civil court case in Florida, where she’s accused of thieving more than $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in the state—a charge her husband denies.

Obama is the only presidential contender this year who released his list of “bundlers,” the financiers who raise campaign money by soliciting high-dollar contributions from friends and associates. But that disclosure has not come without snags; his campaign returned $200,000 last month to Carlos and Alberto Cardona, the brothers of a Mexican fugitive wanted on federal drug charges.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined comment to The Associated Press. He instead referred the AP to previous statements he made to The Washington Post, which first reported the allegations against Assongba in its Sunday editions. LaBolt told the paper 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign, and that it addresses issues with contributions promptly.

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Assongba was listed on Obama’s campaign website as one of its volunteer fundraisers—a much smaller group of about 440 people.

Assongba and her husband, Anthony J.W. DeRosa, run a charity called Abake’s Foundation that distributes school supplies and food in Benin, Africa.

In one Florida case, which is still ongoing, Swiss businessman Klaus-Werner Pusch accused Assongba in 2009 of engaging him in an email scam—then using the money to buy a multimillion-dollar home, the Post reported. The suit alleges Assongba impersonated a bank official to do it. Pusch referred the AP’s questions to his attorney, who did not immediately return requests seeking comment Sunday.

Meanwhile, Assongba has left a trail of debts, with a former landlord demanding in court more than $10,000 in back rent and damages for a previous apartment. She was also evicted in 2004 after owing $5,000 in rent, records show.

In an interview with the AP on Sunday, DeRosa said the allegations against his wife were untrue, although he couldn’t discuss specifics because of pending litigation. He said he and Assongba were “very perturbed” by the charges, and said the couple’s charity does important work in Africa.

Assongba has given more than $70,000 to Democratic candidates in recent years, an AP review of Federal Election Commission data shows. Her larger contributions include $35,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee between Obama and the Democratic Party, and at least $15,000 to the Democratic National Committee. She also contributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Abake’s Foundation is listed by the IRS as a registered nonprofit organization; its financial reports were unavailable. A representative who picked up the phone at the foundation’s Benin office declined to answer questions, and instead referred the AP to Assongba.

Obama’s campaign declined to comment on whether its vetting procedures were thorough enough, or whether Assongba’s contribution would be refunded. All told, Obama has raised more than $120 million this election, not counting millions more from the Democratic Party—giving him a financial advantage thus far over any of his Republican challengers.


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 01, 2012 at 08:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Mr. ASSongba certainly is well named.

2

 Apr 01, 2012 at 09:00 PM MidwesternGuy Says:

An email fraud? Where someone pretends to be a bank official? Why doesn't the article come right out and call it the now-famous Nigerian Scam? We all get these emails several times a week, or more.

Well, we now know that the proceeds of at least a portion of this scam goes straight into the Obama coffers.

3

 Apr 02, 2012 at 07:50 AM Avreich1 Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Mr. ASSongba certainly is well named.

If you had read the story properly, Cleverdick #1, you might have noticed that the person you are oh-so cleverly lampooning is f e m a l e .

But you were in such a hurry you just blundered on.

4

 Apr 02, 2012 at 09:05 AM concerned_Jew Says:

Good. It hurts Obama's chance of being re-elected. that's a good thing. Corrupt people trying to give him money, he should have said no. But I don't think he has a problem with dirty money, do you?

5

 Apr 02, 2012 at 09:51 AM anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
concerned_Jew Says:

Good. It hurts Obama's chance of being re-elected. that's a good thing. Corrupt people trying to give him money, he should have said no. But I don't think he has a problem with dirty money, do you?

The major Jewish donor to Gingrich has amassed a fortune from gambl;ing joints run by criminals

6

 Apr 02, 2012 at 10:07 AM anonymous Says:

Holy saInt Santorum has donors who wish to change the bill of rights and make the Pope the supreme leader of this country and he has other fervent followers who dream of rapture when all the Jews go up in a fiery blaze. The front runner made his fortune from vulture capitalism stated by his colleagues Ron Paul and Governor Perry

7

 Apr 02, 2012 at 10:51 AM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #4  
concerned_Jew Says:

Good. It hurts Obama's chance of being re-elected. that's a good thing. Corrupt people trying to give him money, he should have said no. But I don't think he has a problem with dirty money, do you?

Really?

Did your read anything more than the headline? So far, Obama is the only candidate who is being 100% transparent about who is raising money for him. That's a positive, and you should expect that to be big part of the general campaign later this year. Revealing all his donors and self-identifying dishonest or shady donors and sending their checks back is a POSITIVE. So far, neither Santorum nor Romney are willing to make their lists public. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Obama.

Obama is good at playing on these kinds of issues. It will be interesting to see how this strategy of "transparency" pans out for him.

That being said.... I'm still voting Conservative.... but this strategy will be interesting to watch.

8

 Apr 02, 2012 at 11:07 AM Buchwalter Says:

Except for Romney who is spending his money the others have shady donors

9

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