April 25th, 2008
07:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama campaign seeks investigation of unofficial Web sites

The Obama campaign has asked for an investigation into two unofficial Web sites.

The Obama campaign has asked for an investigation into two unofficial Web sites.

Lawyers for the Barack Obama campaign have asked the Justice Department to investigate two unofficial web sites that, until late this week, invited people to "Donate to Barack Obama for President 2008."

The Web sites - named donateooobama.org and donatetobarackobama.com - were operated by a group calling itself "Concerned Citizens for Obama." The first was advertised as a sponsored link on Google searches for "Barack Obama," appearing alongside Obama's official campaign web site.

As of Friday afternoon, the sites displayed nothing but a 'for sale' notice. But screengrabs taken by CNN earlier this week show what appears to be an official Obama campaign logo, a photo of the candidate, and an invitation to donate up to $2300 - the maximum contribution allowed by a single donor to a political committee during a primary campaign.

In a letter dated April 24, Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation.

"These activities ... appear clearly intended to deceive supporters of Barack Obama into believing they are contributing funds to our Committee," Bauer wrote.

The letter, addressed to the Chief of the Public Integrity section and provided to CNN by the Obama campaign, asks the Department of Justice to "initiate an immediate investigation of Concerned Citizens and the operation of these web sites."

The sites are registered to Lou Kheriaty, a resident of Bellingham, Washington.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Mr. Kheriaty described himself as an Internet developer and Obama supporter. Mr. Kheriaty said he didn't believe the web sites were misleading, pointing to a banner that informed readers they were donating to “Concerned Citizens for Obama.”

There is no record of the group being registered with the Federal Election Commission.

FEC records show Kheriaty donated to George W. Bush in 2004. A search of domain records shows he also owns a number of URLs, including donatetogiuliani.com and donatetothompson.com, as well as anti-Hillary Clinton domain names including hillaryrevealed.net.

After a brief conversation with CNN Wednesday, repeated attempts to contact Mr. Kheriaty have gone unanswered.

Kenneth Gross, an elections lawyer, said the site donatetoobama.org is "engaging in highly regulated activity with a number of landmines depending on how he's spending the money." He added: "It creates confusion at the very least."

- CNN Internet Reporter Abbi Tatton

Related Video: Abbi Tatton takes a look at the questionable Obama websites

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Democrats Rule

    My goodness – talk about no lines at all. This guy thinks he can take people's money because it is clear they are donating to "concerned citizens" and not to Senator Obama??? Sigh.............

    April 25, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  2. HD

    Someone is trying to make a quick buck by fooling innocent people. What a shame.

    I still don't get how people who can't pay their mortgages or who are angry about rising gas prices can contribute money to the Hillary campaign knowing that she does not have a chance to win this election.

    She was $15 million in debt last week. What makes me concerned is that the Clintons are worth hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars and broke wal-mart democrats are paying them. Crazy.

    April 25, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Grif

    Obama! Hillary Clinton, is a few year's older than you... Respect you don't have for Women.... The Future will tell. Web Site's??? You need to be aware of you're own Insite's...

    April 25, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  4. Delaware

    Go after them faker. This was not Barack Obama's website. They were trying to fool people and they need to bring them to justice.

    April 25, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. aliou salam FL

    I pray there is no one behind this one connected to any candidate or any party. that would be a shame.

    are we going to see any more deceptions in this election.

    It appears everyone wants a piece of Obama.

    April 25, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  6. Former Marine

    May be it was set by the Billary's since they were out of funds last week.

    April 25, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  7. Emmanuel

    Its Hillary! It has to be! Thief!

    April 25, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. Pavan

    While Obama is gettting robbed of his donations, Hillary is trying to entice more people on to her website with the statement 'Contribute $5 now'. But when you actually go to the website, you cannot contribute anything less than $10. Typicall HIllary tactics......

    April 25, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Truthteller

    The picture you inserted into the article says "Donate Barack To Obama", not "Donate To Barack Obama". It's totally backwards. Was that the website's typo??

    April 25, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  10. MB

    Grif- April 25th, 2008 6:25 pm ET

    Obama! Hillary Clinton, is a few year's older than you… Respect you don't have for Women….

    What you talking about?

    April 25, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  11. DefinitelyDem

    The guy previously sponged off the Republican party & now sees financial opportunity in the Dems.... opportunist? Parasite? You decide.

    April 25, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  12. Hillary

    BREAKING NEWS: Hillary is making money off of Barack by setting up a fake web-site....Okay it's a stretch, but just a fun prediction 🙂

    April 25, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  13. Tjaye

    Donate Barack TO Obama????

    And people still sent money? HELLOOO?? Must be Hillary supporters.


    April 25, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  14. NANCY

    As a member of WisconsinforObama, I received solicitation for Hillary Clinton – that – on the surface, looked like fund-raising for Obama. I reported it, but that was before the Wisconsin primary. So it looks like this has been going on for a while!

    April 25, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  15. Obatala

    I am sure we can guess who is behind this..........

    she will do anything, and I mean anything to sabotage Senator Obama,

    with technology the way it is, it should not be hard to find out who is behind it,
    the difficulty is , will they say it if they find out who .............

    never trust the clintons never never

    April 25, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. eric from canada


    April 25, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  17. mitch from ark.

    i bet the clintons are behind it.

    April 25, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  18. Go Obama

    This is terrible......

    April 25, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. Montana is Obama Country

    It's probably a scam from the Hillary Camp and the link actually goes to her site. That was how she could raise as much money as she "said" (fishy) she said she raised. It was people thinking they were donate to Barack and $$ was going to Hillary's campaign..

    Funny thought – I just can't believe people would donate to a debt filled campaign sinking it way on the hell-bent-for-election- ship....

    Yes... We... Can..

    April 25, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. Why not?????

    Wonder how many Obama-bots got ripped off? Hope it was a s#@$ load. LMAO Wonder how many are donating to the paulvclinton site. I checked it out and found a spot to donate to this Peter Paul guy. I'm too old to fall for these kind of gimmics. I donate to Hillary because I believe she is the best person for the job. I have never donated to any candidate before, and will never donate to Obama. Maybe McCain to help beat Obama. It could be money well spent...

    April 25, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  21. Young & Educated 4 Obama

    GRIF: If you haven't noticed Sen. Obama is Married and has 2 little girls! As the saying goes "Its best to be quiet n have people think ur an idiot than to open your mouth and prove it!"
    Im sure if I looked deeper I would not be surprised to find Hillary behind the web site tryin to snatch some of O's donation cus she is in deep deep debt!
    Thank god I actually typed in Sen. Obama'a address so I know my several donations went to the right place!

    April 25, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  22. MULU

    What a stupid remark by Grif. Are you a lunatic? Obama is giving and will countinue to give Hillary undeserved respect because he is a man of honor. Not your typical Hillary if you know what I mean!!

    April 25, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  23. ratgurl

    MB, leave Grif alone, he's obviously overdosed. Again.

    April 25, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. DH

    As a bellingham WA resident, I hope this fool gets sued out the door for messing with obama's campaign.

    April 25, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. justobserve

    Ask for $5 to lure people in then make $10? These swindlers are at work; brillant! No wonder the Clinton fundraiser left her campaign and joined Obama's.

    April 25, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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