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. maurice

    150 million could go a long way helping needy people out. just a thought. and in other news.bob it seems people have bought obama the white house....wait this just in. it seems that half that came from the afl-cio. looks like were headed for an early impeachment...but that wont happen because the democrats control everything....well folks were sol. and looks like were in for 12-16 years of obama.

    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. Peter (CA)

    My name is on Obama's list twice. Does that help make you guys happy?

    More and more obvious that the Republicans have nothing of substance to offer the American people. Now that they have pulled out of New Mexico, Iowa, and Colorado, they are even more desperate. If Obama can hold all of the Kerry states and take these three, the election is over. So now McCain wants to flip Pennsylvania. They seem to have no idea what they are doing.

    And, by the way, Rick Davis is as sleazy as they come. His words have no truth in them.

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

    I am one of the donors under $200. Made about 125 so far. Small business owner, married white male....


    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Curious

    I wonder what the conservatives have to say about the muslim supporters for McCain? I bet you will take their votes, use them up like Colin Powell, then if they no longer agree with you, throw them under the bus. Watch the video on CNN. Muslims for McCain. What does cousin Jethro have to say about that?

    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. S. Boatman

    Mccain Got Tricked! Ha Ha!

    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. anne

    I donated to Obama. I don't have much money but I gave what I could. Are you happy, McCain? If you and Palin were not so terrible and ever shut up with your horrible crap I might have gone to the doctor with that money because I have a horrible cold I can't get rid of but it is more important to me that America gets rid of YOU!!! Obama08!

    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. vahe

    hahahah obama will not take the pressure his toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo strong

    October 21, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Average Republican

    I lost a bet. My friend bet me if Palin spends more time on negative things than solutions.,at her next rally I would vote for Obama and if not he would vote for McCain. I lost.My party used to have substance,now its the party of whiners and negativity.What Happened?

    October 21, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Mia, FL

    Forget the GOP. Barack has more money than he needs to spend and we will send him more. Why? Because we don't believe George Bush or his sidekick John McSame. We want our country back and if it takes money to get it back, than so be it. We want an honest president, not some doddering old fool who tells lies and then smirks about it. We want a first lady who's beautiful inside and out. We want first kids who can run around in the White House and grow up to serve their country by giving back.

    We want a lot of things that money can't buy, and John doesn't have the time or the temperament to understand how we feel.

    Also, Cindy and that daughter look as if they're bored to tears. They should go back to Arizona and pretend they really care about us.

    October 21, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Jerry Atrick

    He never did say he was a Messiah, YOU DID. He is though, god's anointed one and just remember that all these things which are taking place are being orchestrated by a higher authority and "no weapon formed against him shall prosper". Amen

    October 21, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Jeff

    Grow up. You would think the party with the oldest candidate to become president, if elected, would be a party of grown ups. This amounts to a teenager trying to get his/her siblings in trouble.

    The fact of the matter is that such disclosure is NOT required. The Republicans are upset that they have not energized there party like Obama has, but if the shoe were on the other foot, would they disclose? No, this is the same party that will not testify in the firing of US Attorneys or the disclosure of a CIA operative.

    So I have two words for Rick Davis, "GROW UP!"

    October 21, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Kiah G

    Um...no one cares...

    The McCain campaign is silly and annoying and basically has lost all credibility so everything they do is viewed as petty and vindictive and evidence of their failing campaign.

    October 21, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. Billy

    Listen how the GOP crys when they don't have the fund raising advantage.

    McCain and the GOP can take their attacks and stick them up their you know what.

    October 21, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Maria in Crawford, Texas

    I have made three $25 donations. That is all I can afford as a single mom, but I know I can't afford 4 more years of George Bush.
    Do you remember that feeling you would get as a kid when it was getting ready to rain? There was electricity in the air, wind blowing against your face, rainbows in the distance. After the rain came everything felt clean and new. That is the feeling I have about Obama. We have been in a drought the past 8 years, and guess what? I can see the thunderclouds in the distance and can smell the rain in the air. There is a storm coming to wash away the mistakes of the past.

    OBAMA '08

    October 21, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Ian

    Maybe McCain thinks this will help him comprehend how much $150 million in donations is. ; )

    October 21, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Super D

    I have little to no doubt that once again, Obama is cheating.

    First it's the voter fraud that is being committed by ACORN in his name.

    The second is this, I bet he's taking money from non-Americans and especially hostile nations.

    Obama is a cheater and cheaters never win.

    October 21, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. bridgette

    Obama did not agree to accept public financing. He said he would be willing to sit down with whom ever the Rep nominee was and discuss it. He filled out a questionaire he never signed anything serious like McCain did. And if you really stop to think about it how much more public can you get. The American public donating their hard earned money to the candidate of their choice. What they are mad at is that they were beat at their own game. If you count up over 600k people making donations between $25-200 that's a lot of money. Not to mention the people who donate all the time as well.

    They can't figure how this man have over a 100k people to come out and here him speak. It's simple people trust him and people are looking for change. That is what they don't get. They are so far removed from the American public that they thought saying over and over that William Ayers and they couldn't even figure out that that wasn't working. They have ran a terrible campaign.

    October 21, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Ariel

    Maybe Obama looked into his crystal ball and knew that a financial crisis was about to hit - and realized that John McCain would suggest such crazy ideas as a blanket freeze on federal spending. Why didn't John McCain decide to freeze his campaign's use of federal funds?

    October 21, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Bob Indianapolis IN

    Poor, poor RNC! Nobobdy wants your filthy brand anymore, so you're going to try and change the rules in the middle of the game?

    Suck it up and start the Death March towards the Elephant Graveyard where you'll be lodging in the Ashbin of History Suite! It's got the best views of Hell....

    October 21, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. ray tay

    I donated under $200.00, to the Obama Campaign, now what?

    October 21, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. Stephanie

    Barack Obama has been the first politician who has inspired me to donate. I am proud to be part of the wave of support for Obama and Biden. They are exactly what we need in this country!

    The easiest way to get the RNC to be quiet...VOTE early and VOTE Obama/Biden.

    October 21, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. texasvoter

    My husband and I donated under $200 and so did both our sons. Give me a break Rick Davis, your desperation is making you more and more pathetic each day!

    BTW, we have already cast our votes here in Texas and North Carolina for Obama/Biden. Since Texas will likely stay red, I will be traveling to NC to help get the vote out there. Let's turn NC Blue!

    October 21, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Olivia

    Many of you Obama supporters will be in for a rude awakening if he becomes the president of this great free country.
    I'm not talking color, here. I'm color-blind.
    This man doesn't stand on solid ground, anymore, he walks on water.
    He is above and beyond questioning...he is richer...much richer....now, than he ever thought possible...compared to only a few short years ago when even his charitable donation was miserly.
    He is very close friends with just about anyone in any field whose name is worth knowing.
    No, he doesn't have to answer to anything. How dare you even ask.

    October 21, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Bit

    Rick Davis and the campaign are running scared. Just face it McPalin, being a "community organizer" has played well with the Obama campaign. Obama is organized and his campaign is well put together unlike McPalin and Company.

    Obama has outsmarted and outpaced you through the internet. He has done what no other candidate has ever done.

    The McPalin campaign needs to wear "green" because of envy instead of red. The color red doesn't look good on you McNasy-–green is more fitting.

    And you call yourselves Mavericks......please. McCain, you should slow your roll with all the nastiness before you go back to the Senate without your intergrity.

    October 21, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. dEMOBRAT

    Nobody cares about Obama's FISA vote anymore either. He is just perfect in everyway -eh?

    October 21, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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