Monday, February 19, 2018

Obama campaign donor accused of fraud

WASHINGTON — A major donor to President Barack Obama has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official, creating headaches for Obama's re-election campaign as it deals with the questionable history of another top supporter.

The New York donor, Abake Assongba, and her husband contributed more than $50,000 to Obama's re-election effort this year, federal records show.

She is fending off a civil court case in Florida, where she's accused of stealing more than $650,000 to help build a multimillion-dollar home in the state — a charge her husband denies.

Obama is the only presidential contender this year who released his list of "bundlers," the financiers who raise campaign money by soliciting high-dollar contributions from friends and associates. But that disclosure has not come without snags; his campaign returned $200,000 last month to Carlos and Alberto Cardona, the brothers of a Mexican fugitive wanted on federal drug charges.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined comment to the Associated Press. He instead referred the AP to previous statements he made to the Washington Post, which first reported the allegations against Assongba in its Sunday editions. LaBolt told the paper that 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign, and that it addresses issues with contributions promptly.

Assongba and her husband, Anthony J.W. DeRosa, run a charity called Abake's Foundation that distributes school supplies and food in Benin in West Africa.

In the Florida case, which is still ongoing, Swiss businessman Klaus-Werner Pusch accused Assongba in 2009 of engaging him in an email scam — then using the money to buy a multimillion-dollar home, the Post reported. The suit alleges Assongba impersonated a bank official to do it. Pusch referred questions to his attorney, who did not return requests seeking comment Sunday.

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