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. First timer

    I am proud to say my $5.00 was part of that....

    October 21, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. AmyO

    Here, I'll tell you who a few are: Me, my father, several of my co-workers, my brother, my immediate family, my distant family, my high school friends, my college friends, my friends I haven't talked to in 20 years but e-mailed just to tell me they donated, and all 150 of my friends on Facebook. If you need names and contact numbers just let me know.

    October 21, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. Betty, Virginia

    We the American people are sending money to elect someone not only that we admire but is loved throughout the world. Money we could use in our gas tanks or at grocery stores. Money we could use for retirement. It should speak volumes that in this ecomony, it is so important to us that Obama win, that there are people sending money not because they can afford it, but because they feel they can't afford four more years of Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin.
    The Republican Party will NOT STEAL ANOTHER ELECTION!

    "The fundamentals of our economy are strong" : John McCain...

    Proud pro-america, real virginia, republican for OBAMA!!!!

    October 21, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. Kelly in CO

    Look at how many people showed up to Obama's recent rally in St. Louis and in Berlin, Germany when he spoke. Look at how much he has raised from donations!! Look at how calm, cool, and collected he remains during the debates while crotchety old McCain grits his teeth and throws pot shots! I think it's clear who the American people want to represent their hopes and dreams in the White House, and abroad. We need someone who will be able to sit across the table from the other leaders in the world and make the world view of America what it once was!

    October 21, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Denise OKC

    Pardon me...but I AM ONE of those small donors, contributing $50.00 at a time. I have not yet hit the $2300 limit but I'm working on it....Think I'll go right now and Donate some more..Can't wait to early Vote.

    RNC...Kiss off! You are just jealous your rich elite won't put their money where their mouth is.
    Obama/Biden 08

    October 21, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    You are crazy if you are a Hillary supporter and vote for McCain instead of Obama. McCain stands for everything that Hillary is against and then some Not to mention the fact that, e.g., lifetime Supreme Court appointments hang in the balance. Seriously, not a good plan of action.

    October 21, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Cathy Agu

    G O P

    Get Over Palin
    Get Over Please
    Get Over Papa McCain.

    October 21, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. mel from Ohio

    Would someone tell these people to just SHUT UP!!! The GOP has simply become annoying at this point in time. They have an idiotic candidate and an even more idiotic, inadequate, non-credible VP candidate- they just need to admit that they messed up and wait for the next time around.

    October 21, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Pat Carpenter

    Sorry McCain/Palin, it all sounds like sour grapes.

    October 21, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. Brian MacDougall

    It's easy, Rick, and I explained it to you over on HuffPo. Every time McCain or Palin says or does something incredibly stupid, I send BO $50. I'm up to about $600 USD so far. Your boy and girl are BY FAR the biggest fundraisers for BO.

    Oops, just read McCain's "baseball loyalty flip-flopping" smear! Gotta send another $50. At this rate McCain and Palin are going to put me in the poorhouse a lot faster than BO ever could.

    October 21, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Mark

    Question: If Obama has been shattering campaign fundraising records since last January, why does the McCain campaign all of the sudden care? A desperate strategy, for a desperate candidate.

    October 21, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Small Buisness Owner for Obama

    Right, because the polls and dontations are going to the popular candidate, something must be fishy.

    Give it up, McCain.

    Seriously, with the vast majority of people who are wiling to put their money where their mouth is donating to Obama, where the heck is McCain getting HIS money from? Now THAT seems fishy.

    October 21, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. Jim F

    I've given 3 times to Obama for a total of $100. I don't even care that I'm broke; my money was well spent. I only wish I had more to give.

    October 21, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. Sandra

    Why are the GOP, RNC, and Mccain/Palin so paranoid? Don't they trust Americans citizens anymore?

    October 21, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Judy in Minnesota

    I am one of those small donors, contribbuting to a political campaign for the first time in my life..and I'm 60! Multiply that by the thousands of new donors added to the regulars and you have his 150 million...easy.

    October 21, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Wiccan for Obama

    My husband and I made two donations to the Obama Campaign in September and one in October, SO FAR!!!!


    October 21, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. A Woman In California For Obama:

    Guess what McDespearate-I happen to be one of those 3.1 million donors who contributes and will continue to contribute until this is OVER. The McCain [people] are just jealous of what Obama has raised. Get over it. Your hate just makes everyone want to contribute more. We don't like hate or YOU. or YOUR girlfriend.

    Vote early so we can get this over with.

    October 21, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. dthdc4

    I donated to the campaign. Is that enough for the RNC?

    You bunch of stupid crybabies.

    October 21, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Danielle, TX

    I made a donation. So, there...one less name for you to look up.

    October 21, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. Marc

    Yes, he is buying the election. Vegas Barbie, you and your husband are fools. Give that money to the needy instead of inundating me with advertisements from the chosen one.

    October 21, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |

    hey -–am " THAT ONE" under 200 ................................WHAT


    OBAMA / BIDEN 08

    October 21, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Liz, St. Louis, Mo

    GOP is trying any and every tactic that can work to derail Obama's momentum. This is at least more civil than the over the top kitchen sink of the last two weeks or so.

    October 21, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. Cheryl

    There's all kinds of reports that electronic voting machines in Florida are changing Obama/Biden votes to McCain/Palin votes right before the voters eyes – this needs to be reported ASAP.

    Always request a paper ballot when possible. Obama's money needs to be invested in a legal team to tackle this problem now.

    These voting machines and their programming are distributed by republican-leaning companies.

    Early vote when possible in case there's a problem with your registration – this will give you time to correct any reqistration problems.

    October 21, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. Obama/Biden 100%

    I made two contibutions to OUR OBAMA campaign.
    RNC, feel free to contact me anyime to verify how much I sent....and I will send more!

    October 21, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. We Demand Our Country Back!

    I make a small contribution with every paycheck using my credit card. Why do the GOP monsters have any right to know what I am donating? They can't have my money and I certainly don't want them to have any of my information!
    GOP is sinking to lows that I didn't even know existed. I feel like they are attacking me for my support of the other team. GROW UP AND LOSE WITH DIGNITY, GOP!

    October 21, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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