JERUSALEM – One week after WND reported Palestinian brothers inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip illegally contributed to Barack Obama’s campaign, the Democratic presidential candidate’s team has not responded to repeated WND requests for a clarification regarding how purported refunds were returned.
The brothers told WND their money was not refunded.
Last week it was exposed Palestinian Gazans Monir, Hosam and Osama Edwan made a series of donations online at Obama’s official campaign website totaling more than $30,000.
The donations violate election laws, including prohibitions against receiving contributions from foreigners and accepting more than $2,300 from one individual during a single election.
The Wall Street Journal reported it spoke to Obama officials who said the nearly $33,500 in donations were received between Sept. 20 and Dec. 6 of last year and that most of the money was returned by Dec. 6. The campaign claimed, however, the refunds were not reported to the Federal Election Commission due to a technical error.
The Obama camp insisted the remaining $2,500 was refunded Aug. 4 and that all the refunds will be reflected soon in an amended report. The campaign said new controls are in place to prevent any similar attempts in the future.
But WND spoke to the brothers, who denied the Obama campaign refunded their money.
“No, we did not receive any money back from the Obama campaign at any time,” said Monir Edwan.
The Edwans continue to maintain their financial transactions made on Obama’s campaign website were not actual donations but purchases of “Obama for President” T-shirts.
The transactions, however, were listed as donations in U.S. government election filings.
Obama’s campaign also told the Wall Street Journal last week the funds from the Edwans were for the purchase of T-shirts.
The Obama team has not explained why T-shirt revenue was reported to the FEC as contributions.
The Atlas Shrugs blog, which first highlighted the unusual Edwan contributions, meanwhile, has posted copies of FEC letters from as early as last April requesting additional information for 36 contributors, including the Edwans. The FEC letters, which document the contributions in question, state the donations may be “excessive” – exceeding the allotted amount for each individual.
The question arises: Why didn’t the Obama campaign immediately report back to the FEC in April that the illegal Edwan money had been returned four months prior, as the campaign now claims. The FEC, in fact, had to send an additional letter just last month requesting an explanation.
In addition, the explanation – both from the Obama camp and from the Edwans – that the brothers purchased T-shirts from the Gaza Strip doesn’t appear to stand up to close scrutiny. The Edwans claimed to WND the T-shirts were received in Gaza last December.
When the Edwans made their contributions online, they listed their street as “Tal Esaltan,” which they wrote was located in “Rafah, GA.” The same address was listed in all relevant FEC filings.
Rafah is not a city in Georgia.
A WND investigation last week tracked down the Edwans living in the Tal Esaltan neighborhood of Rafah, a large refugee camp in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The brothers could not explain how the purportedly purchased T-shirts arrived in Gaza if the campaign had a mistaken address in Georgia. The T-shirts would have been shipped to the purported “Rafah, GA” address.
That the Edwans were able to contribute any money to Obama’s campaign from Gaza also raises questions into the methods used by the presidential candidate’s website to accept online donations.
The website donation form asks each donor to affirm he or she is a U.S. citizen and is above the age of 16 but doesn’t require donors to prove their citizenship status, such as providing a social security number. The form further requires the donor to affirm the contribution is not coming from a corporation, political action committee or lobby group.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.