U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) last week unveiled a new piece of legislation aimed at curtailing fraudulent campaign donations.
The bill, called the “Put Zombie Donors to Rest Act,” seeks to revise the Internal Revenue Code to necessitate the provision of a billing address and credit verification value (CVV) for all political donations.
This legislative move came on the heels of a report from the O’Keefe Media Group, an investigative news organization, which purportedly discovered a “national plot to utilize senior citizens matching a similar profile as vehicles to launder millions of dollars into political campaigns.”
The report was published on March 28, 2023.
In response to these allegations, Florida Senator Marco Rubio reached out to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), only to be informed that the FEC “does not impose requirements for specific safety or security guardrails that political committees must use to accept online donations.”
Congressman Gaetz, in the press release, said, “Through the diligent efforts of citizen journalists, O’Keefe Media Group has uncovered potentially millions of dollars in campaign donation fraud.”
Gaetz further pointed out that these fraudulent transactions are executed by unidentified entities or individuals using the identities of American citizens, a practice dubbed as ‘zombie donors’.
He further explained his legislation, saying, “The ‘Put Zombie Donors to Rest Act’ aims to amend the Internal Revenue Code and mandates the inclusion of both a credit verification value (CVV) and a billing address as mandatory requirements for confirming the donor’s true identity, cross-referencing it with the corresponding address or banking information.”
James O’Keefe, Founder and CEO of O’Keefe Media Group, lauded the efforts of citizen journalists who brought the issue to light.
He commented, “The corporate press, who regularly combs through publicly available FEC data, had an opportunity to uncover this but did not. It took citizen journalists to not just flag the data but to corroborate findings in states across the country.”
O’Keefe voiced his support for the bill and emphasized the significant role journalism can play when exercised by the citizens.
He concluded by expressing his anticipation for “transparency from Act Blue and other major credit card processors in our political system,” as he believes the answer to who may be behind this alleged scheme targeting senior citizens lies in such transparency.
Read the full bill below: