October 21st, 2008
02:15 PM ET
10 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. Not Joe!

    Anyone who listens to Cindy McCain is a crack head too!

    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 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. Ms for McCain and Palin

    All of you need to watch and see what happens if Obama gets elected and we have a Democratic Congress. He has so many radical friends and his preacher of 20 years hates America. Hmm, if I went to a church for 20 years and listened to a man that preached against America, I would have alot of radical friends who hate America!! Obama does not stand by his word on anything.

    October 21, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. TexasVet

    Really? I guess then he's supposed to give us all of our money back...NOT! He can keep every dime of donated and will continue to donate because keeping THE OLD GRINCH AND THE DINGBAT out of the white house is well worth it.


    October 21, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. ND Mom

    Rick Davis, the new Carl Rove. What an honor.

    Obama supporters are the real thing.

    October 21, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. True Democrat

    To Tainopower:

    The people have spoken. We don't want Hillary, we want OBAMA. Please get over it.

    October 21, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Tom, KS

    I'm one of Obama's donars. Tom P. of Manhattan, Ks. I have donated around $35 every month since February. And, I voted early today for Obama.

    October 21, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Steph

    The Repubs need to stop trying to create any scandal in an effort to defraud the election. Would they really read through all 3.1 million donor names anyway???? You want to know why Obama raised 150 million in September...... because the Repubs started thier slander, smears, lies and fear campaign then!!! [Just like he raised 10 million in 1 day after Palins RNC speech] The more the repubs say stupid things to try and insult americans intellect the more we cry no more by donating to the Obama and all the Dems running for election this year!
    Now they're talking pro-american and anti-american areas and people in this country, if you're not for them then you're anti-american! Keep it up and then Dems will have tons of money and a majority of the republicans running will be out of a job on Nov. 5

    October 21, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. Anne

    I'm another one of those small donors – a few dollars here and there, mostly whenever I was particularly disappointed by a McCain campaign tactic. I hate that he is spending our tax dollars to run such a smear-tastic campaign. The average donation to the Obama campaign is $86. It's average citizens giving their hard-earned, after-tax dollars to the candidate they believe in. That's America right there.

    October 21, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Not Joe!

    McCain a 72 year old cry baby!

    October 21, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. TRACEE



    October 21, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Sue

    Gosh, I have given a total of $85, which the Obama website is keeping track of. Get on issue McCain-stop the attacks, and stop your VP from the name-calling. It's getting really annoying, and surely not winning you any more votes. You're on your way down, and Cindy can go back to Arizona, and Sarah and Todd can go back and co-govern Alaska, if she is allowed to remain in office. Talk about transparency-when IS she going to have to talk to anyone about her abuse of power-when will she be held accountable for a crime?

    October 21, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Rob in CA

    Sorry, little time to write. Need to send Obama/Biden a small donation.

    October 21, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Tom, KS

    There is actual proof that McCain lobbied foreign officials for campaign contributions, while there is no such proof of Obama. It's funny how the GOP's like to point fingers first so that it doesn't have the same sting when the exact charge is something they are guilty of.

    October 21, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. max (NY)

    Sorry, Jack, you gota get your own!
    "Don't hate the player, hate the game"

    October 21, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. June

    I made several small donations to Obama and I was asked for address, phone #, occupation and employer every time. Obama has the records but he doesn't need to disclosed our information to the republican rats. Spin it anyway you want, Obama is supported by the american public and small people like us. I donate because we believe for the first time, I can have a voice in this election. We donate more in Sept and Oct because we can see the finish line and we can almost taste the republican's defeat.

    October 21, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. HSNP

    Boy are the Republicans desperate.

    October 21, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Joe PA

    I have given $25 a month to Obama since March. No need for a website all of us small donors are proud of what we can contribute.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 21, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. Commonwealth of Virginia

    Compare 100,000 people at sen. Obama's rally to the whopping 7,000 at McShame's. The numbers tell the whole story.


    October 21, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Mccain/Palin are liars!

    It's so funny that these republicans just can't believe a regular person like me has donated to Obama's campaign almost every month now.

    October 21, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. CindyN--PA

    Every person I know that says they are supporting Obama have told me they have donated. So if McCain cant raise enough money, then they should look at how they've run their campaign.

    Today I heard Palin say she wanted to be like Ronald Reagan.
    Well good then, you can have the tax plan of Ronald Reagans, because that is exactly the tax plan Obama intends to implement.
    He is going to have you pay what Ronald Reagan had America pay when he was President.
    Go Obama/Biden

    October 21, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. b/augusta

    Count my $150 donation to the Obama campaign. I am sure my little amount doesn't make the RNC jealous.

    October 21, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Slime Ball Rick Davis

    Typical White Person

    Read the full article before posting such comments. FYI: 70 countries are supporting Obama....

    Do you guys not know how to read...you do follow under the McCain/Palin catergory, dumb/dumber

    October 21, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Amy

    It had been a month or so since I last sent in a $10 donation. Guess it's time to donate again. Thanks for reminding me John.

    October 21, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Countdown with Keith Olbermann

    Do you suppose that IF Michelle Obama was a member of a group called the "Illinois Independence Party", which stood for the independence of Illinois from America, like Todd Palin ACTUALLY WAS a member of the "Alaskan Independence Party" which ACTUALLY was for the independence of Alaska from America, that it would get more play in this new cycle???

    October 21, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. NickNas


    Now They want to call all of US Criminals because we didn't give to the GOP. They cannot accept it is the P_E_O_P_L_E who are sick of the GOP and want to smear us ALL.

    They will not quit until this entire country is under investigation.

    Silly childish distractions. I think I will go donate again. It ALWAYS makes me feel better.

    October 21, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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