FEC to audit Obama's 2008 campaign finances

Just in time for the 2012 campaign, the FEC has announced that it will be auditing President Obama's 2008 campaign for the presidency.

Roll Call reports:

The Federal Election Commission has launched an audit into President Barack Obama's record-breaking 2008 campaign.

Individuals familiar with the campaign told Roll Call Friday that the FEC has been investigating the financial records of Obama's previous campaign. The scope of the probe, which began approximately two
years ago, is unknown. Presidential audits typically take years to complete and can cost millions of dollars.

The newly formed 2012 Obama campaign did not deny there was an audit, but a spokeswoman called it a "review."

"The FEC is conducting a routine review - as is true with the McCain Campaign, the Romney Campaign and many others - to determine if they have any questions with the information reported," said Katie Hogan, deputy press secretary for the campaign. "Given that there was an historic number of contributors and contributions - nearly four million and over nine million respectively - this takes time."

This is hardly "routine." Since Obama did not accept federal campaign money, the FEC was under no mandate to investigate his campaign.

But an investigation that was launched 2 years ago, it appears that the Obama 2008 campaign has been less than forthcoming in responding to FEC questions:

The potential for the FEC's audit became increasingly more likely as the FEC questioned some of Obama campaign filings. In all, the FEC wrote 26 letters to Obama for America warning the campaign that if it did not adequately respond to the agency's questions that it "could result in an audit or enforcement action."

These letters totaled more than 1,500 pages of questions and data that outlined compliance concerns - including the longest one ever sent to a presidential candidate.

The Obama campaign has shown signs of an audit for years as it has ramped up its spending on legal fees and other similar expenses, according to CQ MoneyLine study of disclosure reports.

With $750 million in contributions to go through, the audit is expected to take several years.