The Government Accountability Institute published a new report entitled “America the Vulnerable: Are Foreign and Fraudulent Online Contributions Influencing U.S. Elections? Taking Another Look.”
GAI’s report finds that while 91% of Republicans with active donate pages require the Card Verification Value (CVV) on their websites, fewer than 10% of Congressional Democrats require the additional layer of security.
With interest in the 2018 midterm elections heating up, the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) wondered whether things have changed since our extensive September 26, 2012, analysis of federal campaigns’ vulnerability to foreign influence. Have members of Congress exhibited any effort to self-police themselves? And was their failure to require the CVV for online credit card donations just an oversight, simple ignorance, or a conscious decision?
We began examining campaign sites on June 9, 2017, and finished our review on June 19, 2017. In each instance, we opened the currently active campaign site of a member of Congress. If the member was running in a special election, such as the Alabama senatorial race, we used the special election campaign site. Those members of Congress that did not have active campaign sites were counted in the “no donation” page totals. For each site, we determined whether there was an active donation page. If there was a donation page, we entered as much information as was necessary to pull up the section that requested credit card information and determined whether the site had a CVV field.
For Donald Trump, we used the current site. For Hillary Clinton, we used her donation page from October 2016 from the web archive website. Both of their sites required the CVV. Hillary Clinton’s current website redirects to the DNC web donation page.
Overall, we found that the percentage of members of Congress with active donation pages requiring CVV has remained essentially the same. However, upon looking closer along party lines, we observed that the percentage of Republicans with active donation pages requiring CVV was up from 75.2% in 2012 to 91.3% in 2016. On the other hand, CVV usage by Democrat members of Congress with active donation pages was down from 26% to just 8.3%.