Last Updated:November 26 @ 10:08 pm

Barone: Obama's Chicago Politics: Thuggery Not Civility

By Michael Barone

It has been reported that the Obama campaign this year, as in 2008, has disabled or chosen not to use AVS in screening contributions made by credit card.

That doesn't sound very important. But it's evidence of a modus operandi that strikes me as thuggish.

AVS stands for Address Verification System. It's the software that checks whether the name of the cardholder matches his or her address.

If a campaign doesn't use AVS, it can wind up accepting contributions from phony names or accepting contributions from foreigners, both of which are illegal.

The 2008 Obama campaign pocketed money from "John Galt, 1957 Ayn Rand Lane, Galts Gulch CO 99999" and $174,000 from a woman in Missouri who told reporters she had given nothing and had never been billed. Presumably she would have noticed an extra charge of $174,000.

The Obama campaign is evidently happy to pocket the money. After all, this is the president who, according to political scientist Brendan Doherty, has appeared at more fundraisers in three and a half years than his six predecessors did in 35 years.

Obama has been to at least two fundraisers just in my apartment building. I often see police and Secret Service blocking traffic for a block around Washington's posh Jefferson Hotel at 16th and M Streets.

Obama talks a good game on transparency and openness, but he's ready to flout the law by avoiding AVS and to break his high-minded campaign promises.

In the 2008 campaign cycle, he promised to take public financing for the general election. He broke that promise when it became apparent that he could raise far more money on his own.

During much of this cycle, he's been criticizing Republican super PACs as a perversion of the political process. But when he saw that Republicans might be able to raise as much money as Democrats, he broke that promise too and authorized Cabinet members to appear at fundraisers for the super PAC headed by his former deputy press secretary.

Democrats outraised Republicans in 2004 and 2008. Evidently, Obama considers it grossly unfair that they might not do so this year. That's not how things work in Chicago.

The "campaigner in chief," as The Washington Post's Dana Milbank dubbed him yesterday, also has a nasty habit of denouncing Republican and conservative contributors by name. He's followed lefty bloggers in trying to demonize the Koch brothers.

This coupled with a propensity to make jokes about siccing the Internal Revenue Service on people looks like an attempt to chill opposition political speech. Especially when there are reports that tea party organizations are getting hassled by the IRS.

Obama also indulges often in reckless political rhetoric. He likes to say that Republicans want no regulations at all on financial institutions and businesses.

It would be more politically astute, I think, and would certainly look less thuggish to draw intellectually defensible distinctions between his own regulatory policies and those of the opposition. Attacks like this sound like debates late at night in the dorm.

"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," Obama said during the 2008 cycle. That sounds like something you might hear from a community organizer. Or a Chicago pol.

Chicago, Obama's chosen political venue, helps to explain this behavior. The mayor of Chicago -- the job he once aspired to before greater opportunity beckoned -- is an utterly dominant figure.

Chicago pols assume they can endlessly plunder the local private sector without penalty. And business leaders quickly catch on that it's a good thing to be known as a personal friend of the mayor. Campaign money flows accordingly.

The local rule is "don't back no losers." Those who do are well advised to do business somewhere else. You never know when the assessor is going to raise your assessment. And don't appeal in court unless you hire the lawyer with the right connections.

The mayor is also the one who gets all the credit for all good things that happen on his watch, as Obama is attempting to do on the killing of Osama bin Laden. Even though he opposed the interrogation methods that produced the information that led our special forces to Abbottabad.

Other campaigns have not disabled their AVS systems. But then their candidates are not from Chicago. Obama likes to talk about the need for civility. He just doesn't like to practice it.


Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.



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  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    May 3, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    I warned you months ago our lead from behind President would raise the Ghost of Bin Laden before the election to grab credit from those who at the point of the spear removed him. I guarantee you those Bin Laden Death Pictures will leak out piece by piece, Mysterious origins unknown of course with the requisite feigned anger by the Obamanites who will glean the subsequent votes. These pics sit in the vault like money and votes in the bank and will be spent at the proper time to assuage the next crisis that never goes to waste in the world of manipoulative Chicago style politics.

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    • mcoryComment by mcory
      May 3, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

      Why is this Obama behavior a surprise? The man with a questionable past. His ability to have the courts to let him slide when it comes to his eligiblity. Never accepting blame for the chaos this country indured that he has caused since he has become president. The questionable appointments that he has made and the people (including his crazy commie family) that he has associated with in the past. Eventually and hopefully, all that is Obama will come crashing down upon him.

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  2. SuncoastComment by Suncoast
    May 3, 2012 @ 9:55 am

    Barone starts by saying “It has been reported…” NOT TRUE!

    It has been PROVEN !
    All you need is a valid credit card number.
    The name does not even have to match the card

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  3. Dingbat36Comment by Dingbat36
    May 3, 2012 @ 10:53 am

    Here is the reason and the the cause of all illegitimate contributions. Wanna hide it? Funnel it through someone else’s card.

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  4. bna42Comment by bna42
    May 3, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    “If a campaign doesn’t use AVS, it can wind up accepting contributions from phony names or accepting contributions from foreigners, both of which are illegal.”

    But it seems that no one in authority cares about his illegal activities. The same thing happened in the 2008 election, and Obama never released his campaign records. As long as his colleague in the DOJ is there to run interferrence for him, his crimes will continue.

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  5. wildfireComment by wildfire
    May 3, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

    It is not just “reports” that Tea Parties are being hassled by the IRS. I know specific people who have been targeted by the IRS. It makes me sick the way the press/media is portrayed as searching for the truth because “the public has a right to know.” But they NEVER search for the truth when the left is at fault, which is most of the time.

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    • Mary SComment by Mary S
      May 3, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

      I’m one of them. They are hassling us over legitimate contributions we’ve made to various charities, most of them affiliated in some way with the Catholic church. We provided all the appropriate documentation and have been in a holding pattern for months, while interest and penalites are racking up. I maintain that this started because my spouse engaged in some correspondence with an Obama campaign operative, criticizing their boss. It’s a scary day in America when you cannot express your opinion freely without fear of any kind of repercussion.

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    • gimmesometruthComment by gimmesometruth
      May 3, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

      Obummer is using the IRS as his enforcer’s to intimidate all 501C3′s who don’t agree with their agenda. This is only going to get worse if we don’t evict the current Occupier-in-Chief of the WH. Today is the National Day of Prayer, and while I prayed for all of our leaders in government, I closed with, ” Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

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  6. MaryComment by Mary
    May 3, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    He and his cronies are more crooked than any snake I ever saw. And living in West Texas for about 47 years, I saw plenty of them.

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  7. Pingback: Obama’s Chicago Politics: Thuggery Not Civility | Martin County GOP

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