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. Sharon - NC

    I have made several donations of approximately $50 each. The sheer number of persons that have contributed to Obama's campaign (averaging $67.50 per) apparently mystifies John McCain. Why? Because he just doesn't get it. People like Obama and what he stands for, and just as importantly, what he will not tolerate.

    October 21, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. NoMcSame

    Don't hate the player hate the game baby.

    October 21, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. OBAMA 4 President

    Yet again republicans are raising up issues they know will not stick, but they raise it in the hopes that it will insert a seed of doubt in the minds of Americans, this tactic is subtle and insidious but still has not worked on Americans of above average intelligence. It only works with republicans who we all know have a screw or two loose.

    October 21, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. maggie lou

    This is the only thing they have left to complain about. I already voted and have made many $10 & $20 donations so there RNC

    Obama 08

    October 21, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Is this really about Sen. Obama's transparency or just a shield to keep focus off of the fact that Sen.. McCain went begging to the Russian mission at the UN for funding...for foreign funding, for his campaign.

    October 21, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |

    I am another firt time donor to Obama's campaign. My husband and I were talking about this last night and he was wondering where all the Obama money was coming from and questioning the source. I finally said well I gave 100.00 bucks of my own. That is where all the money os coming from. So there! I believe donating is like voting. It is a private way to support your choice and no one elses business. Believe me he shut up right then. I made my point.l

    October 21, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Lori

    I think that Obama used great JUDGEMENT in forgoing public financing. That's why I am voting for him to be our next president.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 21, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. President Barack Obama

    Your obviously a Cry Baby, Sore Loser. The primaries was over in June & your STILL CRYING. We had one Clinton Presidency now it's time to move on

    October 21, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Protractor

    How DARE the majority of Americans try to steal this election from the 32% of the nation that identifies itself as Republican.

    What is this, some kind of a democracy or something? What? It is? Oh....nevermind!

    October 21, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Voter

    Jealousy is the ultimate form of flatery...

    O in '08

    October 21, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. ueheinz

    Rick Davis, psss. In case you miss it, let me break the news to you: the majority of us are fed up with your Little Old Party so your tin can is empty. Envious? Too bad, you deserve it!

    October 21, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. sam

    I donated in small amounts(toatalling $400) during the year several times. One thing is clear that people responded over whelmingly when ever there is out burst of lies from McCain campaign about Obama/Biden – one simple truth we are all sick and tired of dirty and shameful campaign by McShame and Palin.

    October 21, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Alaskim

    My husband and I are Alaskan small donors to Obama's campaign. Want to investigate us? We have never donated before and are doing it now because we have a viable choice for a new future. McCain/Palin are desperate, simply desperate. Enough of the rancid attacks. Obama/Biden 08!!

    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Hillary Democrat

    i voted for Obama 26 times. Thanks ACORN.

    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Ganete, Toronto




    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Dan

    Jealousy, pure and simple.

    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. Not sleeping at the switch

    Get over it GOP!

    The Money comes from the PEOPLE and you KNOW it.

    WE have SPOKEN and it is time for you to go away QUIETLY.

    Thank you

    The 4 Million Plus AMERICAN Donors to Obama.

    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Obamalism

    Seriously, if there is nothing to hide, then release the records. If they're telling the truth, then that's a very positive talking point for them.

    Otherwise, they're just strenghening the notion that they're less than forthcoming about such matters.

    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Ummmm... Dear GOP, I just sent more money to Obama campaign. Thanks for reminding me about this issue every day so I can send more to Oooooobama! Keep up the good work!

    October 21, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Obama Fan

    I am so proud of all the ameican people who are voting for the right reasons instead of all the wrong. People that are voting for McCain are doing it for all the wrong reasons and if he gets into the White House (which he won't) it would be for all the wrong reasons. Go Obama I am so proud of you and your campaign for being honost and for the American people. I cannot wait to say President Obama!!!

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

    ...is it so difficult for the republican party to believe that there may be that many americans fed up with the bs they've been feeding us for 20 of the last 28 years?

    ...is it so difficult for them to believe that the common citizen, the citizen they use and abuse, can step up and support and endorse someone who is genuinely concerned about our nation as a whole and not just the top few with all the wealth?

    ....must be....

    October 21, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Ben

    Both Republicans and Democrats pay attention. Name calling and hate speech from supporters from both sides needs to end. You all look like a bunch of spoiled rotten kids. If all you can do is whine and call names leave the United States. None of you on either side deserve to be here. Simple Quote from the Bible, DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. Has America become so pitifull that members of both sides have forgotten something so simple. Looks that way to me. I'm not for either party's ticket since neither of them are going to help this country.

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

    Wow, middle american must not be that bad off if they have that much extra cash to give to a campaign to be wasted on an attack ad.

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

    When will McCain release his psychological/psychiatric records?

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

    And oh by the way. through Intrade, I took the money from your Republican fellows and donate it to the Obama camp.

    October 21, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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