A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Fraudulent Column Casts Doubt on Obama’s Funding

Q: Does a Maureen Dowd column cast suspicion on Obama’s funding?

A: No, the column is being disseminated under her name is a fraud.


I have heard that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is alleging that Obama is getting millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the Middle East via wire transfers. Is this true?


The column attributed to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that’s been winging its way around the Internet is a fraud. The fake column, dated June 29, 2008, reads in part:

Bogus E-mail: Obama’s Internet campaign started out innocently enough with basic e-mail networking , lists saved from previous party campaigns and from supporters who visited any of the Obama campaign web sites. Small contributions came in from these sources and the internet campaign staff were more than pleased by the results.

Then, about two months into the campaign the daily contribution intake multiplied. Where was it coming from? One of the Web site security monitors began to notice the bulk of the contributions were clearly coming in from overseas Internet service providers and at the rate and frequency of transmission it was clear these donations were “programmed” by a very sophisticated user.

While the security people were not able to track most of the sources due to firewalls and other blocking devices put on these contributions, they were able to collate the number of contributions that were coming in seemingly from individuals but the funds were from only a few credit card accounts and bank electronic funds transfers. The Internet service providers (ISP) they were able to trace were from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries. One of the banks used for fund transfers was also located in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s Dowd’s real column from June 29, 2008. It’s about a Hillary Clinton supporter acting a bit juvenile, the melding of the two Democratic candidates’ security forces and press corps, reporters’ musings on Clinton’s pantsuits, and Bill Clinton being in "a self-pitying meltdown about not being Elvis anymore." It covers a lot of ground. But it’s certainly not an investigative piece about Obama and foreign funding.

Not only did Dowd not write that column on June 29, she never wrote it. Dowd told our colleagues at PolitiFact that "it just seems like anyone who is familiar with my column would know this wasn’t me."

The Obama campaign says that it complies with federal laws concerning donations from overseas, which require donors to certify that they are American citizens before their donations are accepted. We know of no evidence to support the claims made in this anonymous, poorly written e-mail masquerading as a piece by a well-known columnist. It’s just a fraud.

–Jess Henig


Adair, Bill and Angie Drobnic Holan. "Bogus Dowd column spreads quickly." PolitiFact.com, 8 July 2008.

Dowd, Maureen. "It’s Over, Lady!" New York Times, 29 June 2008.