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. Red

    Unable to win in the issues, the Republicans are seeking to win on technicality. How sportsmanlike.

    October 21, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    150 million in September.....things must not be that bad after all

    October 21, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Countdown with Keith Olbermann

    This is too much fun! I've never seen the GOP so panicked in all my life!!! They are like a scyzophrenic wilda beast caught in the headlights. They seem to be exhausting every sinlge option they have from "socialist, to wealth spreader, to terrorist, to tax plans, to the Phillies & Rays, etc. etc. etc." If they are not careful they will confuse their sheeple supporters so much that they won't be able to find their way to an election booth coming Nov. 4!

    October 21, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |

    Hey Rick, Why don't you come clean. Let's check your records on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. You have a lot of nerve talking about being on the up and up. Your nothing more than a Bush, Cheney, Rove scumbag!!

    October 21, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. mitch

    let them cry all thry want! i donated 9 times in $25 increments. most supporters did the same. get over it,gop losers!

    October 21, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. bill

    Extremism is always bad , and in this case Obamas uncehecked left turn and open road paved by Pelosi and Reid should have everyone concerned. Americans like fairness, not re adjusting the score. All those who still have that uncertain feeling about Obama, listen to it.

    Why all the secrecy? Where are the medical records?, There is NO history of any writings from all of OBAMAS school days? He praised the Book of Bill Ayers and his wife promotes a joint speaking session of the two, but we are to believe there is no sharing of ideas. He has no recollection of any hate speak in his church? Does this make sense to you. I not saying he shares the worst of these beliefs, but at a minimum is willing to rewrite history and at the time was willing to turn blind eye and deaf ear to these in effort to promote his agenda.

    If you share this discomfort, you are smart and need to square with it before you vote.

    Please understand, I get you want justice, but what we are changing to is more important than the punishing the past. McCain is not Bush. You, likewise, are not supporting Bush or betraying your displeasure with him by realizing that we as a country need to come together. The fact is you can not unite around extremism, and McCains proven centrist leadership promotes co operation that angers both extremes, and that is a healthy thing for all of us.

    October 21, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Jessica


    From a two time "small doner" in Michigan.

    October 21, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. John in Ohio

    I have donated to Barack Obama.

    Lots of people like me have donated whatever we can to Barack Obama.

    As a result, Obama isn't slaved to the archaic system of big-ticket fundraisers and the super-wealthy controlling the elections. And the Republicans hate this.

    October 21, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. GA Independent

    Guessing that the RNC wants to see who the "Republican traitors" are that are quietly supporting Obama and his mission of change. Did the RNC ask their small donors whether it was ok with them to put their names online? I'll bet there's quite a few of those donors who now wish they had kept their checkbooks in their pocket...

    October 21, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. MemeForObama




    October 21, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  11. Hillary Democrat

    Word has it that Osama Bin Laden has been donating money to Obama under an alias names. Go figure. NO SOCIALISM, NO WAY, NO HOW, NOBAMA!!!

    October 21, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. Anthony

    The GOP actually whining about AMERICA deciding to show their support for change monetarily...

    If Obama wasnt pulling in record amounts of donations, I am absolutely positive you wouldnt hear a word about this from the Repubs

    Im glad a bit of my HARD EARNED money went to OBAMA.

    Let Cindy McCain cut John a check.. we all know she's good for it.

    October 21, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. Independent but Leaning

    If Obama is elected and raises taxes on corporations, we'll see inflation. This will probably be about the same time the we have the promised international crisis aimed at testing our inexperienced president. these two things along with the Pelosi/Reid led congress will kill our economy.

    Vote for McCain. We can't afford the risk.

    October 21, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. Fed Up

    Want some transparency ? I donated and will continue to donate. Maybe the millions of us that donated should start emailing John McCain and the RNC, tell them how much we donated, why we donated and why we won't be voting for John McCain.

    October 21, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. mama4obama

    I donated to Barack Obama on several occasions....$10 here, $20 there and my donations were matched by other citizens. I donated whenever I could squeeze a few bucks out. This was the first time in my life that I have ever donated to a campaign, but the stakes are just too high to let McCain in the White House.

    McCain is just pissed that Obama has ran over the typical GOP with a steamroller and beat him in every way. Get over it McCain...you lost because you are not right for the country!

    October 21, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. Independent but Leaning

    Yes, let's see how much Bill Ayers has donated

    October 21, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. Greg Mitchell

    Go Obama win, win, win. The Obama supporters in Baton Rouge and around the world are eagerly awaiting the victory of positive change. The many supporters in Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana, have your back, so take the time you need to visit your grandmother and we'll be praying for you all. Once you are back on the trail. My family and I would like to invite you and your family to Baton Rouge, La.

    Obama / Biden 08′…………………………………

    Palin / McCain No, No , No, not now, not ever, not anywhere, leave and never come back , enough of both of you, America does'nt want you to be the President or vice President, go away, stay away. can you understand this is simplest form, on your low level of understanding . Cindy McCain just please, don't say anything, you have enough uncouth people talking already. you and the pumpkin head look alike, both are empty. Like the republicans

    October 21, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Justin -NC

    Obama 08. These RNC clowns are jealous they don't have that kind of money. Now, not only is John McCain unable to compete, but so is the RNC because they fear with an Obama Administration, the DNC will one day match or outspend the RNC which has long held the fundraising advantage. At 605 million for a political campaign, I guess we now know the power of community organizing so lampooned at the RNC. Maybe they should take back that scorn and try to organize like the Obamas. To quote an old saying: Don't hate, participate.


    October 21, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Former Republican

    I voted for Obama/Biden in Port Saint Lucie, Florida today! I feel so liberated can't wait to get rid of McNasty and Moose Killer!

    The voting process: I joined a line for about 1/2 hr. then I went in, gave the clerk my driver's license and voter I.D. card.....she never paid much attention to the voter card but she ran my driver's license like a credit card and had me sign my name like you would on the credit card machine at a check out counter. The machine then spilled out a receipt, which I was instructed to take to another clerk, who attached the receipt to another piece of paper which she asked me to sign. She then gave me the ballot in a secret folder and told me to go to the booth to fill out. After completing the ballot, I went to another clerk who was monitoring the voting machine. She told me I was No. 961, and had me sign in the line by No. 961, she then told me to insert the ballot in the machine without removing it from the folder. The machine pulled the ballot in like an ATM card and the machine registered my No. 961, the clerk then gave me my "I vote Early" sticker!

    Not sure how its being done around the country, but the process was very smooth for me here in PSL!

    October 21, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. The Stallion & The Champ vs. The Old Mule and Winky Half-baked Alaska

    "Our house is right"??????? Yep, so far right into Wingnut County that you've abandoned all of us UNamerican voters.

    Which of the several 7 or 8 houses of facism would that be?

    I smell desperation, and it's comin' from the gaggle of adolescents at the McCain campaign!

    October 21, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Independent but Leaning

    "John McCain, RNC, please go to hell and leave us alone."

    That's a different kind of politics... Obama is definitely bringing about change.

    October 21, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. Accountant Guy

    This is pathetic. While Obama is holding a meeting on the economy in Florida with leaders from different states, the Republicans are trying to find out why he has all this money. I can end this right now, he has so much money from the public because everyone is giving whatever they can to him, because we know he is the only one who will help our country recover from Bush!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 21, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. hurriCAIN PALIN

    fraudulence + inexperienced empty suit socialist = NOBAMA

    October 21, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  24. Chris

    Funny how the GOP complains about transparency only when they fell behind. Where was the "transparency" before?

    Where's Palins Per Diem transparency?

    McCain's military record transparency?

    How long did it take McCains wife and Palin to release tax records? and on Friday's no less!

    October 21, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Bama for Obama

    Why do they really want to know? Will every donor be on their hit list with phone taps and investigating all of our lives?

    Here is a news flash for the republicans; it was people like me who donated for the first time in their lives. I personally have been determine to get those republicans out of the White House; and when they went up in the polls in September, that was when I sent in my money. Now since they want to start a hit list, I guess I will need to send additional money so I can have a president that will ensure fair treatment of innocent donors.

    The republicans have become pathetic, money hungry, self entitled, rightwing party in which the laws of this country or any country do not apply.

    October 21, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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