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. I just voted for Obama

    Hey Republican National Committee, I donated $200 to Obama. Come and get me!

    Typical Republican tactics. If you can't suppress voting, rig elections or get the Supreme Court to declare you candidate the winner, you go after Democratic donors. The RNC – in fact, the entire Republican party – is the most anti-democratic organization of this (or any other) century. They are not interested in the democratic and constitutiionally-enshrined foundations of this country, only in acquiring and keeping power.

    And they have the nerve to call us anti-American.

    October 21, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Victor from MI

    2008 presents the new shiny, much more WHINY GOP!! Congrats on destroying your own brand GOP!

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. Ken in Dallas

    A bold attempt to rewrite the rules of the game in mid-play, i.e., to cheat.

    I can sympathize with the Repugnicans a little bit, though. They are very transparent, in a certain sense.

    Now how is this discussion going to help the country? Well?

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Fran

    HOw many ways can you spell.........JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Pepou

    I have made at least 15 donations to the Obama campaign over the last 19 months. Some averaging $25. Does that answer their question ? My husband gave as well.

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. Shay

    TAINOPOWER- that is stupid as McCain. Why would you want someone in there that can't lead the country. Now if you really love, like or was a friend of Hilary you would do what she has asked. Vote for Obama because she will. I don't understand how can go against her wishes.

    Some people are tainted with studpidy and I think you are one of them.

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Hispanic Voter

    This is ludricous coming from the McCain camp & RNC. I donated to Obama's campaign and I don't need them questioning my donation. First, I work hard as an America and I gave my donation because I believe that Obama can take America into a new direction and for change. This is another tactic by the RNC and McCain camp to distract voters from the REAL issues. They are upset that their own campain-McCain & RNC can not get donations from small donors like myself. There is an article on New York Times indicating where the big donors are for both campaigns.

    I am very insulted that the RNC and McCain camp would want to question where Obama's small donors are. The average as indicated in Barack Obama's website is $86 dollars. Do the math RNC & McCain camp? It is not hard to do.

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |

    People in this country know exactly where many,many of these donations came from.......................from out of the country!!!
    Obama is completely divorced from the truth.

    America...............please google FRANK MARSHALL DAVIS

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Janine

    I made several donations and I don't want my information being released just like if someone asked me who I'm voting for I don't have to tell them. I think McCain did well in the last debate when he was talking about the issues. If he would've stuck to that in the beginning, I think he stood a chance. The rest of the BS is stupid.

    October 21, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. undecided still

    I am not sold on Obama, nor McCain. Joe Biden, said Barack will be tested shouldn't he have said America will be tested., and he will need help.This troubles me plenty!!! Do I go for the feel good cool black dude with no experience, or for the old guy with a pentchant for bombs away. Either way I'm not as warm and fuzzy with either one. I guess which ever way I go I should learn to hold my breath for 4yrs.
    Oh and by the way I do find Obama's bloggers tobe awfully rude and predjeduce towards anyone with life experience and some gray hairs.

    2012 😉

    October 21, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. jm for sc

    I gave a small donation to Obama. I will give another one when I get paid next week. Probably another one two weeks after that. That is where the small donors are coming from.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 21, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Lauren independent voter i California

    As usual the GOP is jealous of Obama and the fact that his supporters are donating to him. Of course the mccain camp would not be complaining if they had raised 150 million in one month. Double standard.

    October 21, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Louise, CO

    Of course the McCain camp can put their small online donor database online, its 4 people

    October 21, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. They want the White House to be their 9th House

    @TAINOPOWER October 21st, 2008 2:53 pm ET

    Vote for McCain so that Hillary can win in 2012?That is the worst logic imaginable.

    If McCain wins there will be NO America in 2012.

    The Country we know today will no longer exist. It will be a Chinese Colony.

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

    You fools are the type that put Hitler in power. Blaind allegiance. Don't you see how Obama treats those who question him? Do you think he'll ask you how you voted after the election is over and he's trying to take away your Constitutional rights?

    Wake up people. This is how democracy dies and Socialism is embraced– with cheers.

    October 21, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Laverne

    Boy, the Republicans just can't figure this thing out. America does not want you McCain! People are enthusiastically giving to Obama's campaign and that is transaparency for ya! If I could give more than $2300 I would, because it is worth it to not see another republican in the white house.

    October 21, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. Janine

    TAINOPOWER- not everyone is that stupid. Hillary already said she is not running for President again. Give it up already.

    October 21, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. wally goff

    seems a little hypocritical of sarah palin mouth off about gay marriage when she was pregnant when she married and her daughter aborted her first pregnancy in canada

    October 21, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  19. Lynn R.

    If the people was really supportive of McCain and Palin they would pour their money there but they don't have anything to offer except lies, smears and falsehood. I wouldn't spend or send my money on someone who has nothing to offer.

    October 21, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. GOP for Palin in 2012

    Will you PLEASE tell the truth…….IF Palin is VP, THE GOP will NOT allow Hillary to beat Palin as the NEXT President………THIS is OLD news for those of us on here who supported Clinton. We are NOT that DUMB to forget it has already BEEN established and STATED by the GOP that if McCain wins, THE Republicans WILL support Palin run for President in 2012.…………..DAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 21, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Martha, IL

    Guys, I just did something and I feel great ... I went to early voting and just did it, marked Obama/Biden!

    GO VOTE!

    October 21, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. CitizenAJ

    My wife and I have donated to the Obama campaign several times. Her last name has her African name, born in Congo, hypened with my last name. So, to observers who are not paying attention, they could think she is a foreigner making an illegal campaign contribution. I suspect a lot of natuarlize citizens with foreign names have contributed to the Obama campaign. Why? Because the Obama campaign is "inclusionary" not "exclusionary" like the McCain-Palin, "pro-America areas of the country" ticket. The republicans are proving to be the most slimiest, filthiest, low-down snakes I have ever witnessed. Wow! Talking about doing whatever BAD it takes to win an election. Who would trust them if they did win the election? One abuses her power and the other one says whatever the crowd wishes to hear. What a couple of phoneys.

    October 21, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Jeff G

    I am sure the RNC will only use this private information for proper purposes such as identifying homes to vandalize and voters to disenfranchise.

    October 21, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Andrew Brunton

    I've given about $200 dollars to the Obama campaign over the last year. If you don't believe me, you are welcome to look that up. I've never wanted anything more in my life than to watch Obama be sworn in as President. I would have donated more, but the Republican policies of the last 8 years have made that impossible. I graduated college with very good grades, have a job at a very well known, publicly traded company and have worked there for over 2 years, and I also work a second job at night delivering pizza's. I repeat, IF I COULD AFFORD TO GIVE MORE MONEY TO OBAMA I WOULD.

    October 21, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. George

    Mr. Obama's MYSTERY DONORS are troublesome...

    ...and they show was a suspicious, covert president he would be.


    Not choosing the public finance systems DOES NOT MEAN you can funnel in money from gosh knows where.

    Another IMPORTANT reason NOT to choose Obama/Biden.

    MCCAIN/PALIN 2008 !!!

    October 21, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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