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. Nia from Minneapolis

    I've given over $400 over the past few months and I have never contributed to an individual candidate in the past – I hope they contact me to verify, I have several comments for them.

    October 21, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. q

    The GOP is going to get the Obama Camp more donations...Heck im going to do so right NOW!!!

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

    Just more unbridled jealously from the Sourpuss Express.

    October 21, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. X-Republican in Texas for Obama

    Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. You obviously having been listening to Sen Clinton. If you supported Sen Clinton for her views and believes then you would not even consider voting for McCain.
    What about if Sen Clinton decides not to run in 2012? You would've wasted your vote on Mccain.
    We listen to Sen Clinton and our family voted for Obama/Biden yesterday.

    October 21, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. TRE


    TAINOPOWER October 21st, 2008 2:53 pm ET


    October 21, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Florence, SC

    Sounds like the Republicains had a little "HATER-AIDE" today. If McCain had been the right person for president then i'm sure he could have raised more money from his supporters. The only thing transparent is the McCain campaign. Wahts to come next from the McCain camp-the kitchen sink.

    October 21, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |

    January 21, 2004, on Fox News' "On the Record":

    McCain: "We Want Average Citizens To Contribute Small Amounts of Money… I'm For That. I Think It's A Great Thing." During an appearance on FOX's "On The Record," McCain said, "I think it's wonderful that Howard Dean was able to use the Internet, $50, $75, $100 contributions. That's what we want it to be all about. We want average citizens to contribute small amounts of money, and that's a commitment to a campaign. So I'm for that. I think it's a great thing. I think the Internet is going to change American politics for the better."


    October 21, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Michael Link

    I've contributed less than $200 to Obama, and really can't afford to send the amount needed to get over the $200 requirement right now. However, I'm happy to provide Rick Davis and anyone else my name. By the way, I voted for Republican preseidents for 20 years - NOT THIS YEAR!!

    Mike Link
    Wellington, CO

    October 21, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. tigerakabj

    Shut up RNC. You guys are mad you can't swiftboat Barack like you did Kerry. And he is already shutting your voter suppressing techniques down on top of that. So I guess you don't like that either huh?

    Bunch of whiny cry-babies when you get up in their face.

    I want a 50 state washout out of the Republicans, all the way to the state level. They need to pay for hoisting up Bush, Cheney, McCain, and Palin.

    October 21, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. School librarian

    Tainopower, your comments suggest that you are not a fan of McCain but you will vote for his ticket because you are in mourning over Hillary. You should seek professional help. Depression and irrational thinking lasting more than two weeks is not a good sign.

    October 21, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |

    June 29, 2004, on MSNBC's Hardball:

    McCain: It's "Wonderful" That More People Are Involved in The Political Process "With Relatively Small Campaign Contributions." During an appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball," McCain praised the internet's ability to raise money in small contributions. McCain said, "The Internet is generating more and more people involved in the political process with relatively small campaign contributions, $50, $75. That's wonderful. No longer can an office holder call up a CEO or a trial lawyer or a union leader and say, I need $1 million. And, by the way, your legislation is up before my committee again."


    October 21, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama basks in the glow of the money train while people lose their houses, their jobs and their retirement incomes. Something is wrong with this picture.

    October 21, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Spirit of America

    Spending over one billion dollars to take over The White House is the antithesis of democracy. Private money has no moral place in public elections. Of course, it is the M.O. of political prostitutes.

    October 21, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. JJ

    Note to McCain camp: Jealousy will get you nowhere. Not be mad he raised a whopping $150 million. Are your feelings hurt?

    October 21, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. paula

    I've made donations to Obama's campaign.....$5-10 repeatedly over the months. I am only one of millions who have donated what I can, when I can to Obama. I am not rich by any means, but consider it the best investment of my life for the future of my children and of the world. I'm willing to give up a couple of meals to do what's right.

    I'm so sick of the hate mongering by the McCain camp. I donate $$ to Obama everytime they lie or try to create division. I'm sure others do the same which he why he has received so much.


    October 21, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Joseph, Los Angeles

    I'm a small donor to the Obama Campaign, and I intend to make another donation later today. Does the McCain people need to see my receipt, I'll be glad to send it to them. That will be my 5th 25-30 dollar donation.

    October 21, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. Annette

    Let me say this, I am one of those small donors GOP, believe it, it is real. Stop being so jealous, remember Reagan did the same thing in the 80s ( received small donations from donors as well) to bad the McCain camp was to slow to utilize something that their own party had used before 🙂

    October 21, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. ANGIE

    I donate to Barack when I can here and there, I dont want the Gop getting my name and Information,And whats up with Mccain begging Russia for Money? Mccain mind your own Business, Dont worry about us folks that Donate to Barack we dont want you having our Information!

    October 21, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Barnhardt in NC

    Wow – so far today we've heard nitpicking over which baseball team he supports, sniping over comments his VP made about crisis and now this.

    In his acceptance speech in Denver Barack said, "They want to make a big election about the little things." I'd say he was right on the money with that one.

    October 21, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. FAYE, NV

    Anyone who will vote for mccain because Obama is the Dem party for Pres is sick. Who would want to jeopardize the safety and well being of Americans.

    Voting out of strife is dangerous and immature.

    October 21, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. voter

    the gop argument that Obama said he would take public financing and then said no was wrong. Excuse me small donations from citizens is public financing. instead of taking the money from people's taxes, let people donate to the campaign directly. Obama is not taking money from lobbiest and big oil like the RNC.

    October 21, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Rob

    Amazing how all you fools bad mouth McCain and the Republicans as only being concerned about money. Barry's buying votes, stealing them, having his buddies in ACORN round up dead people. Truth is, if all Obama had to run on was his ability he'd lose big time. The man has no experience, offers nothing, and would be a wimp as a president. His own VP admited as much when he told people to expect an attack if this joker gets in. But no, he has Oprah, various other Hollywood morons, and unintelligent koolaid drinkers like you all who build him up on his pedestal of lies and false promises. The man will do anything, ANYTHING for a vote. And when you've got ACORN registering people (live and dead) multiple times, and a news media that coos and blushes every time his name is said...you all are pathetic.

    I anxiously await November 6th, when you wake up to find that your false prophet is nothing more than hot air. And you and all your media buddies are running around wringing you hands and wondering why.

    October 21, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Tiffany

    How much more "public" can the financing be, the money came from 3.1 million Americans?

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 21, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  24. Gene

    Complain Complain... People out there are saying that Obama is buying the election. The reality is that the People are buying this election.. we, the American People, are buying the country back from Special Interests and lobbyists.. and I'm proud to be one of them.

    McCain is just mad because Obama surrounds himself with marketing geniuses.. the mark of a good leader, especially in a bad economy.

    October 21, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. Not Joe!

    The Republicans are trying to supress the vote now they are trying to supress the American people giving to the canidate that they like if he or she is not Republican!

    October 21, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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