October 21st, 2008
02:15 PM ET
5 years ago

GOP tries to pressure Obama over small donors

A crowd estimated at 100,000 turned out for Sen. Obama's recent rally in St. Louis. Obama's campaign has more than three million individual donors.
A crowd estimated at 100,000 turned out for Sen. Obama's recent rally in St. Louis. Obama's campaign has more than three million individual donors.

(CNN) – Republicans are looking to turn Sen. Barack Obama’s jaw-dropping $150 million September fundraising haul into a liability, pointing to a lack of transparency over the thousands of small donations that have padded the Democrat’s campaign coffers.

In its latest effort to cast a bright light of scrutiny on Obama’s fundraising, the Republican National Committee launched a new Web site Tuesday that allows users to search for individuals who have contributed less than $200 to the RNC since Sen. John McCain became the GOP’s nominee. The site follows up on an administrative complaint recently filed by the RNC that asks the Federal Election Commission to require Obama to disclose all of his donors – even small donors who give less than $200, which Obama is not otherwise legally required to disclose.

The new site hits the Internet a day after McCain campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters that Obama’s failure to make a similar effort would leave lingering questions about the source of those funds. “Our house is right,” Davis said on a campaign conference call, referring to the McCain campaign’s decision to disclose all of its donors, even those it is not legally required to disclose because of the size of their contribution. Davis said that “the vast majority of [Obama’s donors] are probably legitimate,” but pointed to recent press reports of donations received by the campaign over the Internet that were not in compliance with federal campaign finance law. “So . . . from our perspective, a little bit of sunshine, a little bit of transparency will go a long way on this issue,” he said.

Click here to listen to Rick Davis on Obama's fundraising

The Obama campaign dismissed the suggestion from the RNC and the McCain camp that it is hiding something by not disclosing its small donors. “Without accepting a dime from Washington lobbyists or corporate PACs, which have paid a pretty penny to John McCain’s campaign, our campaign has shattered fundraising records with donations from more than 3.1 million Americans,” Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said in an e-mail. “We have gone above and beyond the transparency requirements by disclosing our bundlers and the levels of contributions they raise – and we have followed the FEC’s disclosure rules for individual contributors. Compiling our monthly FEC report is no small feat – it totals nearly 80,000 pages. While the McCain campaign claims to have made their donor list fully transparent, they list hundreds of donors on their website under the name ‘anonymous,’ many more with zip codes that don’t exist, and fraudulent contributors with names like ‘Jesus II’ – we hope and expect that they will implement a rigorous review process like we have to make sure their contributions are appropriate.”

Since announcing his presidential bid, Obama has raised approximately $600 million as of the end of September. His campaign is the first to forgo public funds during the general election phase since the creation of the federal public financing system for presidential races in response to the Watergate scandal.

Early in his campaign, Obama made statements suggesting that he would agree to accept public funding if the GOP nominee did the same. He subsequently announced, however, that he had decided to opt out of the public financing system and would rely instead on private contributions allowed by federal law in order to finance his general election efforts. Because he decided against participating in the public funding system, Obama’s campaign will not be subject to an audit by the FEC, which McCain’s campaign will face as a result of receiving public money.

At the time the RNC filed its FEC complaint requesting an complete audit of the Obama campaign’s finances, the Illinois senator’s campaign said it had been the victim of Internet fraud in those cases where improper contributions were submitted online, and that it was reviewing its fundraising procedures to make sure every available step had been taken to root out such contributions in the future.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • RNC
soundoff (336 Responses)
  1. E

    oh give it up mccain, you are so jealous it is sad. If you had raised more than him you would be offended to have to report your small donations.

    Weren't you the one to write the fundraising rules in the first place? If you don't like them maybe you should blame yourself!

    October 21, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. Doug R.

    It's hard for the RNC and GOP to accept the simple truth that Obama raised over $150,000,000.00 in campaign funds in September. The McCain campaign is nearly bankrupt.

    October 21, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Tom G

    Grasping at straws, are we now, Mr. McCain? Going after less than 200dollar donors? 750K potential donors. Oh yes, lets have the Elections Commission folks try to list an additional few hundred K of small mid to low income folks. Bad, bad, bad. Perhaps if you rid youself of the Big Donors – Exxon-Mobile, Haliburton...hmmm.

    October 21, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Noemi in Los Angeles

    My name is Noemi and I am a Barack Obama donor.... don't discredit our support simply because we're outspending you, McCain.

    October 21, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Candace- Texas

    I just gave another $25 ....and i am going to give another $25...and another until we make it to the White House...just stop hating on this man. He is calm, cool, and collected. GOP need to learn some people skills and quite depending on the 5% of the wealthiest to get them elected.... excluding (Oprah).... This support shows what small America can do when they come together...

    October 21, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. African American Hockey Mom

    I have never donated to campaign until now. I have donated to the Obama campaign more than three times. I have lost money in my 401K, but it's worth donating to this campaign. I will donate again today.

    I know a lot of people that are donating to the Obama campaign. We are not on welfare; we are not from foreign countries. We are Americans that want a change.

    Yes We Can

    October 21, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. liz

    It is so obvious that this and the ACORN accusations are just getting ready to claim that Obama stole the election after he wins. Nevermind that the Republicans already stole the 2000 election by throwing out ballots in poor neighborhoods.

    Face it McCain, we are watching this time, you are losing due to your own stupidity and no amount of these stupid childish games will convince anyone other than the crazies at your rallies.

    October 21, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Kathleen

    The Obama web site makes it very clear that people who are not US citizens cannot donate. This is a large contrast to the request by the McCain campaine to members of the Russian UN group to help fund his run. Please check out BBC's report of the clearly illegal request by the McCain camp.

    October 21, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Laura

    Dear McCain-Palin Campaign,

    I've been making small contributions to the Obama campaign since 2007, $25 and $50 at a time, which I upped to $50 and $100 in September. My husband started contributing $50 and $100 in September, submitting a payment online every time you got him riled (so, quite often). We're still well below the $2,300 limit per person, so we have more we'll be sending to every Democratic group we can afford for the next 2 weeks. If you set up a site to report what we paid, we might tell you. Also, you can stop sending fundraising letters to my husband, the ones that ask for up to $5,000 contributions per person, and refer to rich liberal Obama supporters. We're not rich, but we're for Obama!

    October 21, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Phil, Ashburn, VA

    The unstable/unable ticket is getting jealous. This campaign is supported by the people in the not so "pro america" areas.

    October 21, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. Lynne - Seattle

    Jealous much? Just because McCain can't produce this much support from every day "Joe the Plumber" types doesn't mean that Obama has done anything wrong!

    I've donated a total of $80. It's all I can afford...but this is the first time ever that I have donated to a candidate.

    The republicans need to GET OVER IT!

    October 21, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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