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Now, Obama admits campaign/PAC donation links

November 30, 2007 |  5:12 pm

Bad news for the Barack Obama camp and his politics of hope clean-guy image.

The Washington Post reveals today that there was, indeed, close coordination between the Illinois senator's presidential campaign and his leadership PAC, Hopefund, in deciding which local, state and federal politicians around the country were to receive thousands of dollars in contributions from Obama's PAC.

Such coordination appears to be forbidden under Federal Election Commission rules because it, in effect, would give a candidate another, less regulated financial fund to influence the outcome of his own campaign. But Obama officials express confidence they violated no rules. The Post's John Solomon reported the other day that Obama's Hopefund had distributed money in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire to people like New Hampshire state Sen. Jacayln Cilley, who got $1,000 from Obama last summer. Six days later the Democrat in the nation's first primary state announced her endorsement of his candidacy because she said she believed in him.

Likewise, Obama's PAC gave $9,000 to U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, who was New Hampshire's first congressional member to endorse Obama. In the earlier story Obama spokesmen denied any connection between the PAC and Democratic presidential campaign.

But today's piece alters that account and says the PAC has distributed $180,000 to groups and candidates in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa and another $150,000 to similar destinations in states with primary balloting through mid-February.

Bob Bauer, private counsel for both Obama's campaign and PAC, named names of those from the campaign who'd help select the PAC's recipients and professed confidence the Obama entities had met all FEC regulations.

But Scott Thomas, a Democrat and former FEC chairman, says: "He is clearly pushing the envelope."

Obama spokesmen continue to deny any connection between their donations and the recipients' endorsements. But expect to hear more insinuations about this in charges from the Hillary Clinton camp.

--Andrew Malcolm

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