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Journalist Caught Donating to Obama Campaign?

September 8, 2012

Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

An intriguing story surfaced at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.  this week indicating that news reporters have been observed purchasing Obama merchandise, an act that is considered a donation to the campaign according to the law.

A vendor peddling the merchandise for the Obama campaign set up her table and goods on Thursday in an area that is off limits to the general public and reserved for members of the press. The vendor told reporters that she was selling pro-Obama merchandise to the reporters and that most had purchased the goods using fictitious names in order to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

Reporters in the mainstream media have long insisted on their objectivity and neutrality in political matters in order to report the news in a fair and balanced manner.

But if reporters are buying pro-Obama merchandise, then their objectivity and neutrality are called into serious question.

The vendor stated that her sales had been fairly slow but that prior to the Obama speech Thursday evening business had picked up significantly.

But a much more serious issue rises to the surface regarding the reporters who bought Obama merchandise. If, indeed, they used fictitious names as the vendor stated, then they have broken federal law if the total amount of their purchases exceeds $200 per donor.

To purchase political merchandise is considered a campaign donation, according to federal law. And according to the law campaign donations cannot be made fraudulently in the name of anyone other than the person making the donation if that donation exceeds $200.

But if the reporters in question bought goods that total below $200 while using fictitious names, then they are in the clear as far as federal law is concerned.

Some states, however, prohibit all campaign contributions using fictitious names, no matter how small the donation.

Further, if the contributor uses a credit card to donate or make a purchase from a campaign, then the name given must match the name on the credit card, no matter how small the donation.

Thus, not only did the reporters in question compromise their objectivity but some of them may have run afoul of the law as well.

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