Abake Assongba donated around $50,000 to President Obama's campaign and is one of his 400 volunteer fundraisers, the only problem is that she's being accused of fraud, impersonating a bank official, and dodging creditors to the tune of over $650,000. If this story feels like a repeat, that might be because last month President Obama announced he would return some $200,000 in campaign donations connected to drug smuggler and casino czar Juan Jose Rojas Cardona (and before that there was also Obama's ties to Tony Rezko and Rezko's $10 million bribery scheme). If that Cardona case is any indicator, you can expect the president's campaign to return the $50,000-plus Assongba and her husband have donated.
According to the AP and The Washington Post, Assongba is accused of stealing over $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in Florida and owes more than $10,000 in unpaid rent in a Brooklyn apartment. The Post also details how Assongba created a charity which has supported schools and humanitarian campaigns in the country of Benin which, according to the Post's Carol D. Leonnig, now appears to be defunct, its accomplishments now being called into question. In the AP report they add that Assongba has given more than $70,000 to Democratic candidates in the past few years.
Assongba's case is a bit more complex in that she was, as the AP reports, "listed on Obama's campaign website as one of its volunteer fundraisers - a much smaller group of about 440 people." And her shady financial past, brings into question the tricky problem and vetting process of citizen fundraisers, who are essential to Obama's reelection campaign. "More than 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign, and we constantly review those contributions for any issues,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told The Washington Post. "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."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.