By Alyssa W. Walden
VCU Multimedia Journalism
RICHMOND, Va.–Presidential incumbent Barack Obama’s campaign team may have been more diligent in following campaign finance laws, a recent computer analysis shows.
Based on data from the Federal Elections Commission, more dollars from Obama’s Virginia contributions were properly documented than those received by Republican John McCain.
According to federal campaign finance law, each candidate must make a good faith effort to obtain complete and accurate information on each contributor, including the donor’s occupation.
Obama received almost 2,000 donations in which the contributor did not list an occupation, a total amount of approximately $443,000. This figure is only 3 percent of the total dollars given to Obama.
Slightly more that 42 percent of funds donated to McCain were from donors with no occupation listed. Nearly 490 contributors with no occupation listed gave $6.5 million to the Republican’s campaign.Joe Stoltz, acting staff director of the Federal Elections Commission, believes record keeping to be highly beneficial to the candidates involved.
“Knowing the occupation of a donor is important for several different reasons,” Stoltz said.
“We need to be able to track donations to ensure that no one person is giving colossal amounts to a candidate. Campaign finance laws are very strict, and the occupation helps us determine if the contributor is a true person or a false identity.
“The occupation also helps the candidate to get an idea of the demographic of his or her supporters and allows them to better target campaigns.”
Other candidates who did not make it to the presidential election but did run in the primary also received money from contributors with no occupation listed. Many of these candidates, such as Hilary Clinton, John Edwards and Mitt Romney, refunded all or most of the donations from unidentifiable contributors.