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. Joe- the business analyst

    Hey all, I am “Joe the business systems analyst” and I just voted for the 1st time in a presidential election-O/B ticket. As a newly naturalized citizen and a first time voter and donor, it’s only appropriate that I vote for change; that’s exactly what I did. Note: I am one of small donors, and I charged it on my debit MasterCard-just in case you want transparency.

    October 21, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Lorna Mae, Prescott AZ

    I think the idea of transparency is great! I am an Obama supporter and I remember wishing that more states were as open as Florida was during the recount. They call it the "sunshine law".

    I don't mind anyone knowing I contributed $25 month for Obama. I am sure other Obama supporters want to see transparency just as much as I do. We have had everything hidden up and hushed up for so long a little "sunshine" would be refreshing.

    Lorna Mae, Prescott AZ

    October 21, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Obama is for UNITING of the PEOPLE

    TO TAINOPOWER,
    GOP paid blogger.....it has already been stated that Palin will run for the GOP in 2012, she will be prepped to the ticket, DO you think we are dumb….OLD trickery.......dah!!!!!!!!!

    hahahahahaha

    October 21, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. I DONATED TOO

    Ok McNerveRider and Pain in the Arse. I donated too, and guess what it was less than $200. I really couldn't afford it since I make under $30k, but I'll donate my last to make sure ya'll don't get in office!

    October 21, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Jo Ann

    The RNC and John McCain, Palin is so disguesting. They lie and whin about everything. Anything Obama does McCain tries to make light of it can's do it with $150 mil from the american people who want change.

    October 21, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. MEP

    Is this their plan for a new America? Not one new idea or strategy– just more and more nasty attacks. Every time Palin opens her mouth, her foot goes in. And McCain looks more and more like Rumpelstiltskin every day.They cannot build a foundation for governing America on innuendo and anger. Americans deserve better.

    October 21, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Michael - Bay Area

    Let me get this straight, the GOP is complaining because someone beat them at their own game and allow the people, not the special interest and lobbyist groups to control the election.

    Whatever happen Obama had change how future elections and fundraising will be done. One thing for sure, if Obama win and then run for re-election and if we do not like what he done, we the people who donated have more significant influence on whatever or not he get re-election, since it was our pocketbook that was used . Obama gave the power back to people, instead of special interest and lobbyist groups.

    And as Vegas Barbie had said I also made donations to Obama's campaign, I hope that is transparent enough for the RNC

    October 21, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Gene

    to TAINOPOWER

    I'm not ready to live through another 4 years of hell, see people suffer for another 4 years, just so you can have Hillary in 4 years. It's people like you that don't care about the country... only about the person.

    If you want to vote for McCain because you think he'll do a better job, then I would respect your decision. But if your reason for voting McCain is just because you want to see Hillary as president in 4 years, then you are a disgrace to this country.

    October 21, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Jatovi, NC

    This is getting ridiculous. The GOP is pulling out all the stops. Instead of coming up with a plan to fix the economy they would much rather spend their efforts bashing someone. Stop crying about what someone else is doing and show me specifics. This is why millions are giving to Obama's campaign. Try an be more inclusive and stop saying that because I live in a big city I am not a real American or because I don't agree with McCain I am anti-American. This is the same rhetoric you used when someone opposed the war. Ironic isn't it?

    October 21, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Typical White Person

    So why is there a billboard in Belgrade advertising Obama for President? Is he running there or just fundraising?

    October 21, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Tina

    I also sent money to the campaign twice..............He has out raised them out spent them and now it is just plain old OUT for MCSHAME

    October 21, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Not Joe!

    McCain begged money form Russia that says it all! He is not an American citizen any way! He was born in Panama!

    October 21, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Pat

    I donated to the Obama campaign, and it was way under $200.

    Face it GOP, nobody likes you, that is why you can't raise that much.

    October 21, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. Small Donor

    I gave twice, Rick Davis. You mad?

    October 21, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Sick of McCain/Palin

    I'm so tired of all this nonsense from the RNC. Get to the issues nobody cares about all this mess you continue to bring up!!!!! Let us know what you intend to do about this economy and a better healthcare plan

    October 21, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Not Joe!

    First! McCain begged money form Russia that says it all! He is not an American citizen any way! He was born in Panama!

    Second! The Republicans are trying to supress the vote now they are trying to supress the American people giving to the canidate that they like if he or she is not Republican!

    October 21, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. jeff

    Another non-issue. Reading this just inspired me to go donate to the Obama campaign.

    October 21, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. TAINOPOWER

    According to Biden a vote for obama means a crisis.

    October 21, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Independent for Obama!!

    GOP will try anything an everything to try and taint Obama's presidency. They are in awe and they are in shock.

    October 21, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. Sue/PA

    I am disabled and have contributed $265.00 so far to Sen Obama. Am going to donate another $35 tomorrow, to make an even 300$......... My name is Sue Polinick Emporium, Pa 15834......there McCain....Dont call me , I'll call you.

    October 21, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Warren

    Crybaby crybaby

    October 21, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Not Joe!

    Both Palin and McCain are Socialist! Who care about these selloput of America! They have no plans to speak of all they talk about is hate!

    First! McCain begged money form Russia that says it all! He is not an American citizen any way! He was born in Panama!

    Second! The Republicans are trying to supress the vote now they are trying to supress the American people giving to the canidate that they like if he or she is not Republican!

    October 21, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Obama/Biden 08!

    Excuse me RNC & Mccain/Palin do you have any "REAL" issues to talk about??? Why don't you release Mccain's healthcare, economic, and foreign policy strategies for his administration instead of this B.S. Oh that's right Mccain is running out of money and time so we need to cry, whine and stamp our feet just like 2 year olds! Pull up your socks and stop it already we've had enough!

    October 21, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. PKS

    Get a life!!! I don't want to be exposed for donating. This must be whining season.

    October 21, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Steve

    Obama originally said he'd be happy to negotiate with the Republican candidate on whether or not to accept public funds. McCain declined to sit down with Obama to talk about it, so Obama chose his own course. Obama NEVER said he'd take public funds unilaterally. Now the Republicans, who are struggling in every aspect of the campaign are accusing Obama of being sneaky. I've already donated $250 to Obama's campaign in 50 dollar increments. I'm sending 50 more today. Every time the RNC comes up with a new smear or fear tactic, I'm sending 50 more.

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