A major donor to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official, creating another nuisance for the campaign only weeks after it was forced to return $200,000 from a contributor with ties to a Mexican casino magnate-turned-fugitive.
The New York-based donor, Abake Assongba, contributed more than $50,000 to President Obama's reelection this year. Assongba is one of the Obama's campaign bundlers, citizen fundraisers who raise massive amounts of campaign money by soliciting large donations from high income friends and associates.
Assongba is currently battling a civil court case in Florida, where she has been accused of stealing more than $650,000 from Swiss businessman Klaus Pusch, who alleges she engaged him an an e-mail scam to cipher his money. The lawsuit alleges that in 2009 Assongba used an alias to impersonate a bank official and proceeded to use funds wired by Pusch to purchase multiple properties and build a $2 million home in Ocala, The Washington Post reports.
A portion of the debt was reportedly resolved when some of the stolen money was returned to Pusch's account. However, the case against Assongba is ongoing.
Assongba denied the charges in her court response to the suit, according to multiple reports.
Assongba and her husband Anthony J.W. DeRosa have donated more than $80,000 to Democratic House and Senate campaign committees since 2009, according to federal records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The couple reportedly founded and operate a charity called Abake's Foundation, which distributes school supplies and food in Benin, Africa.
Despite the accomplishments touted on its web site, the Post reports diplomatic officials at the Benin embassy in Washington, D.C., said they had not heard of the Abake Foundation. Moreover, a Post reporter who attempted to visit the address the charity lists as its Benin headquarters reported the office was closed. A man who identified himself as the charity's African coordinator declined to identify the location of the school the foundation purportedly built.
DeRosa told the Associated Press on Sunday that the allegations against his wife are untrue, saying he and Assongba are very perturbed by the charges. He said he could not discuss specific details of the case due to pending litigation.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told The Washington Post that campaign officials are reviewing the accusations against Assongba. According to the charity's web site, it has built a school and launched a food collection project in the West African country.
Last month, the Obama campaign returned a $200,000 contribution to Carlos and Alberto Cardona, after The New York Times reported the bundlers were the brothers of Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, who is wanted on federal drug charges. State Department cables reported Jan Jose Rojas Cardona was suspected of organizing the assassination of a business rival and funneling $5 million in illegal campaign contributions to Mexican politicians.