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. kayla

    OBAMA 08

    October 21, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    What else can the McSame/Caribou campaign do when issues won't work?

    Attempt to smear, use lies and other demeaning tactics like this to try to do everything to win, no matter how reprehensible.

    October 21, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. shadowgovt

    I just donated $25 the other day to the Obama campaign, FEC and nosy RNC; feel free to stop by my home in Tiburon, CA, and ask all the questions you like. Good lord, haven't you got ANYTHING better to do than accuse the Dems of running a well-organized campaign. Sour grapes, indeed.

    October 21, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Mike in Columbus

    McCain will drag every Republican ticket down with him this election.

    October 21, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Windy1

    Obama is not buying this election, the common, everyday American is. Not the lobbyists that run and fund the McCain campaign.

    October 21, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. J.C.

    Wow, Just look at the number of people turning out for Obama!

    McCain, the underdog he called himself!
    Only his old friends like Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are supporting him.
    I don't think GOP agrees with McCain.

    October 21, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Ready With Popcorn In Hand

    Bawhahaha – Can the RNC be any more apparent in their outright green as split pea soup jealousy that is eating them alive? This is what happens when you believe you don't have to bust a brain cell once in a while to EARN that which you thought was going to be handed to you on a silver platter because on the planet YOU inhabit the voices all said it was owed. LOL

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Mari, Obama Mom

    Obama has raised millions of dollars because the country wants CHANGE. My husband and I have bought signs, stickers, buttons, and have made donations because we felt it would be a very small price to pay to get this country going in the right direction again. A few bucks won't harm our wallets, but a few trillion bucks of debt, no health care, and foreclosures will.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. Shari, NY

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours goods!!! Sen. Obama is out of this world and the other side is out of touch, out of ideas, out of their minds and not only are they out of gas but the wheels of the jalopy are falling off.

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. Accountability

    Rick Davis is a blight on America.

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Tara, MS

    The GOP can take a long walk on a short pier. Obama will be the next president because the GOP has a doddering old man and a barbie doll.

    If John doesn't care about his selection of Sarah, America does and we will tell him so at the voting booth. No to John, no to Sarah, and no to Cindy Lou. No. No. No.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Senator McCain


    OK, CNN since you will not leave my comments, just maybe you will agree with this!!!!!!!!

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Mark Kahle

    I have personally donated my limits on both the primary cycle and the election cycle for Barack Obama, and guess what I am an independant, but knew all along that my vote was going for the better candidate.

    Obama/Biden 08! 12!

    Clinton 16! 20!

    BTW, Voted early...so my vote is in and secure.

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Terri, Atlanta

    This is just ridiculous – another distraction by Mcinsane's campaign because they got nothing else.

    I love when Obama totally ignores their rantings and ravings and they usually disappear in a day or so.

    Obama/Biden 08 and 12!!!!
    Vote Early!

    October 21, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. Tannim

    Funny, now McCain is trying to make the American people out to be a special interest group. In a way, he's right, we ARE a special interest group, and the ONLY one that should be listened to!

    More desperation and bumbling by the McCain camp–the GOP should've nominated Dr. Paul...TOLD YA SO!

    October 21, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. DIVA

    hey GOP its simple ......100,000.00 PEOPLE TIMES 200.00 and thats at one event



    October 21, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Beverly, NYC

    Hey John, Jealous Much!!

    I'm one of Obama's donor's you'll see my name on September 12th for $1,200. I cancelled a family cruise to Alaska for 2009. Best money I ever spent. If you showed this much concern for the economy you could have had a solution by now. What's the matter Cindy and your rich pals don't care enough to throw open the check books and fund your campaign themselves. They may well spend now before the socialist takes over.

    October 21, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. Terri, Atlanta

    Read the article on Huffington Post about this – they say that the new RNC website to look up small donors is a JOKE – it's just a political gimmick as usual.

    October 21, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. Goddess

    McCain face the fact you can't raise money like he does. The small donations must be from the "anti-americans" here in america huh?

    October 21, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Bruce

    who cares Mccain...what are you going to do for us...give us something more than I have a plan.

    October 21, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. mb

    I am sure the Obama Campaign will not disclose their supporters which will be an invasion of privacy. Also Obama's donors fill out cards with amounts to be turned into IRS. What the RNC is asking is foolishness. This is to cover what mccain and republicans did with Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac long before the bailout.

    October 21, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Robert

    I'm a committed Obama supporter and donor, but after he wins on Nov. 4 I'd be happy to donate one-way tickets to McCain and Palin (especially Palin) so they can fly back to their home states and reflect on the horrible, divisive, lie and hate-filled campaign they ran - and lost. Shame on both of them.

    October 21, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. The Voice

    McCain and Palin and GOP mafia have gone completely insane. They've been trying to find something to turn the polls around, It's not going to happen.

    By the way can somebody go tell Joe the Plummer to pay his taxes, Now that's un-American!

    Palin's abuse of power in Alaska? Now that's un-American

    McCain's racist robo calls? Now that's un-American

    October 21, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Michelle, PA

    That's MY money in the amount of $175 making up part of Obama's $600 million.

    And I'm not Russia.

    RNC, when you're done trying to find foreign countries willing to bankroll your losing effort, come look me up anytime! You have my address, I used to be a Republican.

    October 21, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. Leericists

    Mc whinner !

    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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