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. Janet American Abroad

    WOW! GOP running scared!

    October 21, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. seth

    what a joke. Obama has tons of support and the John McCain is just trying to paint his campaign as "mysterious."

    It is pretty sad how low John McCain has stooped during this campaign. I'd say his career is over.

    October 21, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Stacy (PA)

    What a desperate campaign the Republicans are running. They are throwing everything but the kitchen sink!

    Obama keep a steady hand and is winning over more voters.

    October 21, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  4. michael in MO

    You guys are always looking for a way to "headline" McCain or anything to do with his campaign in the most negative light possible. Its absolutely ridiculous and grossly obvious to millions. If you somehow think this is persuasive to get voters over to your "boy's" side, its doing nothing but backfiring all across the country and the world. Do you have any idea how much the world laughs at our bias, market-driven media, and worse, how gullible our 30″ sound-bite culture buys into it all, without doing their own research? If Obama in fact wins, this country truly deserves the @#!~ its bought itself. But then, who really cares what Obama's policies are about, its more important that he prompt "hope" and "change" and, oh golly, he's just so "kewl." What a joke.

    October 21, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. Phoenix

    I smell HATERADE once again.

    October 21, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Noah

    The Republicans never asked Russia for donations as it is illegal for foreign countries to donate to American campaigns. That is a lie of the liberal Left and you prbably read about it on Huffingtonpost.com. LIARS

    October 21, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. Amy S. , NY

    I think what's impressive is that he collected all this money without the help of McCain's lobbyists, and Rick Davis being one, he kind of feels hurt!...we understand but please, keep that to yourself...we've got an election to win here!

    October 21, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Latina for Obama (nj)

    We the people are financing Obamas campaign...because WE the people want CHANGE....GOT IT GOP??????


    GOOOOOO OBAMA!!!!!!! we love you

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

    Obama changed his mind about public financing because as a good leader, he saw that it would be less of a benefit to his campaign. He made the best choice as he will do when observing conditions as president of the USA. What is wrong with that? How many managers have made decisions based on what was best for their company rather than what was best for the competition? McCain is just mad because Obama has actually purchased most of the air time left.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 21, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Maggie from Virginia

    The people have spoken! The McCain camp has nothing left but to whine and complain. Just like Palin said, She's got nothing to lose.

    After we send Obama and Biden to the white house, we will focus on exposing and disposing of the GOP trash. I've got Palin in my sights!

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

    The depths to which they will steep. I have made regular donations all year long of small amounts from $5 to $50 for a grand total of $350 . I'm just looking for a reason to bring that up to the legal minimum for the general election and I think I found it. Nothing more than a distraction since they can't really talk about the issues.

    I would seriously reccommend they don't go down this path, because us small donors will respond even more.

    October 21, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. al in memphis

    With 3.1 million donors, I certain you can find some type of error. But that needle in the haystack does not mean Obama campaign could control it any better than McCain having listing of anonymous donors. I guess McCain camp can't believe that 3.1 million people would make an investment in the future direction of this country, when the alternative is to listen to fear and name calling.

    It probably hurst the lobbyist feelings that a united, inspired people has more power to change things - it call their worst nightmare.

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

    $150 million in September, all from small donations!?

    Nope.., no fraud here..

    October 21, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Kitten for Obama

    I see a haterade from the McCain campaign. Rick Davis is a slimeball
    and he is trying to tap into what God has blessed Obama with and it is not going to work. Sit down Rick Davis you can't be God's giving no matter how hard you try.

    October 21, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. jo

    me and My wife sent about 7 times the last 4 months. will that help RNC.

    October 21, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Brian

    Latest CNN tracking poll: Obama: 51%, McCain 42%, UnD: 7%. Funny, when McCain gained 2 points 2 days ago, the big headline was "Obama lead shrinking", now? Nothing. I know that networks want ratings on election night, so they will try to make it seem as if it’s closer than maybe they all know it is.

    Also, I have given $25 twice per month for 4 months now. So am I secret and should I be investigated because I wanted to help Barack the best way I could? What is wrong with Republicans? For decades they have out raised us Democrats and now that we are winning the financial war, all the sudden it must be a scandal? What is wrong with a candidate's supporters fueling his campaign? At least Obama doesn’t need to beg the Russians for money! Come on Moderate republicans, show you care for your country more than ideology and vote for change. I realize that we have disagreements, but please consider what putting McCain and ESPECIALLY PALIN in office might actually mean. A campaign that can only win through attacks, divisiveness and erratic shifting from talking point to talking point is not good for the country. Please moderates reconsider and let's work together for a better future.

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

    God I am so sick of this crap. Palin knocks Obama for saying what she said, but says her's was "gotcha journalism" These two, and the majority of the Republican Party are a joke. To think that the party actually used to be something back in the day.

    October 21, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Sojourner2008


    I have personally donated $250.00. This past Saturday, my husband and I hosted a fundraising dinner and raised almost $700.00, each family donating individually using the internet to the campaign.

    So GOP, if you want to find the small donors, walk down the street and every 50 out of 100 likely voters will get you there.

    I've grown tired of the Right. November 4th can't get here soon enough!

    Obama/Biden '08

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

    I love it when politicians say, "if they don't to X, then lingering questions will remain...." Usually when that happens, it is the politician and their campaign trying to create an issue, as is happening here.

    My wife and I made several $25 or $50 donations this year. Senator McCain, if you want more specifics, just ask.

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

    I know I certainly don't trust politicians..., but evidently I'm now in the minority.

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

    We'll get on that starting around Nov 5.

    I donated about 10 times to Obama, nothing above $200, but all together reaching above $200, and I can find all my donations on Google.

    If McCain could learn how to Google, type in a zip code and look at the donor lists. What's wrong with Republicans, can't they use computers?

    October 21, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. "Georgia Peaches" For OBAMA

    For the first time in my life I made a donation to a campaign. I made a donation to the the OBAMA campaign with PRIDE. I would never make a donation to McCain campaign.

    GEORGIA LOVES OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!
    VOTE SMART VOTE OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    OBAMA 08' 12

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

    Thanks, McCain for reminding me it's about time I made another donation to Obama.

    Yes, I am one of the 3.1 million! ... and one of the hundred thousand volunteers!

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

    McCain will not find anything wrong with Barack,s campaign; he is wasting his time because he should be looking at his own campaign and all the mistakes they have made especially bringing Palin on board- what a farce!

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

    TAINOPOWER = Idiot!

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