News24

Obama fundraiser accused of fraud

2012-04-02 13:00

Chicago - A top fundraiser for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has been accused of fraud, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Abake Assongba, who runs the Africa-focused charity Abake's Foundation with her husband Anthony JW DeRosa, has raised more than $50 000 for Obama's re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to the campaign's list of top "volunteer fundraisers".

She is accused of defrauding a businessman out of $657 000, the Washington Post reported.

She also faces a court order to pay more than $10 000 in back rent for her former New York apartment, according to court records.

Assongba, who was born in West Africa, has given thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates in recent years, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Assongba and her husband could not be immediately reached for comment. They deny many of the allegations, according to court records and news reports.

Money returned

Campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt said the campaign regularly studied its contributions for any problems.

"More than 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign, and we constantly review those contributions for any issues," LaBolt said. "Some issues are easy to identify, others more difficult, but once an issue has been raised, we address it promptly, as we will do in this case."

The campaign, which coupled with the Democratic National Committee had brought in more than $200m through the end of January, has returned money from donors previously.

In February it said it was returning more than $200 000 in donations from the family of a fugitive casino magnate linked to violence and corruption in Mexico.

In late December it returned about $70 000 in contributions made by embattled MF Global chief Jon Corzine and his wife.

Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs chief, held a $35 800-a-head fundraising dinner for Obama at his home in April and had generated donations of at least $500 000 for Obama's 2012 effort.

Obama is the only White house hopeful this year to release a list of top fundraisers who leverage their networks to "bundle" donations to benefit the Obama team, which is shooting to top the roughly $750m it raised for his successful 2008 presidential campaign.