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. RDS

    Exactly what they get. Trying to manufacture a controversy and it backfired once again. They need to check their own donors before they try to worry about Obama's. I don't think Jesus sent in a contribution to the McCain campaign.

    October 21, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Phil Newton from Murphy, Oregon

    More GOP intimidation.

    Joe the Plumber supports Obama with little checks.

    John the Big Brother doesn't like it.

    October 21, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. mfelder

    Why is it that each time the McCain campaign accuse the Obama's campaign of wrongdoing, then end up not having clean hands themselves. McCain people, can you just run your own campaign and stop casting shadows on others. We now find out that while McCain campaign has been trying to tie Acorn to a voter registration fraud, they are under investigation for voter registration fraud and suppression. Give me a break.

    October 21, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Tired of W, OH

    Go to Hell, Rick Davis. Obama's so far ahead in fund raising because of millions of first time donors like me. I know you can't wrap your bitter little mind around that fact, but try anyway.

    October 21, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. stef

    The McCain campaign is just too dam jealous. They simply cannot compete with Barrack and his team. They are sorry losers. Barrack is competive in all aspects of this race. Barrack is always on top of his game, never taking his eyes of the prize, that's the kind of leadership we need.

    October 21, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. Essay

    I wouldn't put it past the McCain campaign to somehow make improper contributions to Obama's campaign just so they can make such claims. After all, they were behind the "Joe the Plumber" nonsense. I wouldn't put any deceitful practice past them. They are scandalous and without scruples. I can see why they added Palin to the ticket, she has a recent "executive" history of unethical activities. Heck, she probably brought some new ideas!

    October 21, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Cam, Atlanta

    McCain, RNC are just jealous haters, because they can't get anything to stick.

    First, he's a Muslim, then he's anti-White (despite being half-White, then he's a Terrorist, Socialist, Wealth Spender...now they're insinuating that Obama is a Thief!

    McCain: Running out of time and creative ideas...

    October 21, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Michelle, PA

    So if I read this correctly, the Obama campaign has followed the requirements of the law and in some cases gone beyond legal requirements. So what's the problem with what they are doing? Do the RNC's opposition researchers really intend to personally investigate more than 3.1 million people looking for a needle in a haystack that may or may not exist?

    October 21, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Blue By You





    October 21, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Slime Ball Rick Davis

    You should be the last person talking about finances. Were you not paid by Fannie/Freddie big sums of money. I guess that is why the Republicans had deregulated the finances from Fannie/Freddie. You are the biggest SLIME BALL I have ever seen and I cannot wait for the day for it to come back and bite you in the A*&.

    BTW, yes, I have been donating ever other week to the Obama Campaign. The republicans have made a mockery out of this election and I hope the little I send in is going to help the Obama Campaign to kick you a*& back to Arizona and Alaska.

    All you guys do is complain, whine....grow up people.

    October 21, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Caryn, Washington DC

    I'm one of those donors and so is every member of my family and many of my friends. We are proud American citizens and some of us have already voted for Obama in Georgia and North Carolina.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 21, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. The World for Obama

    I gave Obama $150 in two separate donations. I was born in America, am self employed, pay my taxes and have no links to anyone. The Republicans are on a witch hunt because that's all they have left. They cannot stand the thought of the little guy winning.

    Obama hasn't broken any rules, so why should he have to bow down to the Republican's slanderous efforts to undermine him? It would cost his campaign vital time and money at the crucial time during the elections. Isn't this a step toward a bigger government?No way, no how.

    October 21, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. joyce

    this old fart will try any and everthing to distort mr obama. wait till mr o goes to ha-will he still bash him=sure he will=and never mind the day is coming for mccain mother to disolve. mr o will respect him as all of us will/ mcsain take barbie and go to h-

    October 21, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. jeremy - tx

    Jealousy is a disease, Mr. McCain.

    October 21, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Oak Brook, IL

    Obama, you're the man!

    October 21, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. georgia voter

    I genuinely feel that most of Obama's donors are like me. I have never donated to a presidential campaign, until this year. I have donated as much as I feel that I can right now, (less than 50.00) . This election is very important.

    October 21, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. Kim, Charlotte, NC


    October 21, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Obama is for UNITING of the PEOPLE

    McCain/Palin WILL the BOTH of you………..PLEASE concentrate on YOUR own CAMPAIGN WOES??????????? STOP the WHINNING and GROW UP!!!!!!!!!!!. STOP.....WORRING about Obama, HIS supporters and WHAT he IS doing..............that's right he KNOWNS nothing about the ECONOMY and HE has SPENT HOURS worrying about Obama instead of the American voters ISSUES.

    McCain STOP worrying about Obama and TELL us what you are going to DO about this economy and HOW are you going to get our LOVE ones OUT of IraQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 21, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. Molly

    WHERE – EXACTLY does all this $$$$$$ come from????
    Seems like he has a few foreign investors – is that legal????
    I know the college crowd has NO money to give!

    Media – do your JOB!

    October 21, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. Jess

    It is hilarious that he continues to claim not to accept money from PAC, when it has been shown over and over again that he is just as guilty as McCain in that respect! Stop the lies...on all sides!

    October 21, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Joe The Plummer

    Man Haterz never sleep. I don't get all the hate from the GOP a bunch of Playa Haterz really tho

    October 21, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. David Orbach, New York, NY

    Key word in the title is "TRIES." The Republican ticket seem to be willing to try anything as the campaign winds down, but they just can't seem to understand that no one cares. The people have finally woken up and we need the problems that we face addressed and solutions provided. Obama has come through, and McCain, well McCain seems to think that attacking his opponent will somehow make us think our problems are solved.

    October 21, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. VA goes Blue...

    Davis: "Obama’s failure to make a similar effort would leave lingering questions about the source of those funds"

    I laugh at this b/c I gave three times and each time it was an amount less than $100. So, people like me, who don't make $250,000/year give small amounts when we can, and that ticks the RNC off. I don't want them getting my name so they can swipe it off the voter registration in my state!!!!

    Newsflash: pro-Americans are the source of those funds!!!!

    October 21, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. wam

    so now the GOP wants to get the names and addresses of those who gave even $1 to Obama? how much more intrusive can they get. aren't we allowed any privacy, or are they going to demand to know EVERYTHING about everybody?

    October 21, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. D

    Smear tactics. That's the only thing the GOP knows how to do when they're losing.

    I've had enough of the last 8 years.

    Down down with the GOP.

    Down down with McCain/Palin.

    Go back to Arizona and retire, McCain.

    And to you Caribou Barbie, a plane is waiting to take you back to Alaska.

    October 21, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
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