President Obama just formally launched his 2012 bid for re-election, but his campaign is still under scrutiny for its operations during the last presidential cycle.
Sources tell Roll Call's Alex Knott the Federal Election Commission has launched a formal audit of Obama's 2008 campaign committee. The probe, which the campaign describes as a "review," comes after GOP allegations of illegal campaign contributions and other unusual transations.
It's not unusual for the FEC to launch a formal audit of a presidential campaign after the fact. The agency investigated John McCain's 2008 campaign committee. But the difference is that McCain took federal funds for his committee--automatically triggering an audit--while Obama's campaign did not.
It's unclear what exactly triggered the FEC's decision to look into Obama's spending nearly four years after the fact. The FEC isn't talking, but in recent months, the agency has sent letters to the campaign asking for it to clarify donor identities and other compliance issues. At the end of March, the Obama campaign had spent nearly $3 million on legal fees related to the FEC's requests. It has also returned almost $6 million in contributions to donors the committee could not identify.
Obama raised roughly $750 million for the 2008 race--more than any other presidential campaign in history. Advisers to Obama's re-election committee have said the president plans to raise at least that much cash for next year's campaign, but likely more.