November 5th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama has choices for excess cash

There are strict federal guidelines on how unspent campaign funds may be used after the polls have closed.
There are strict federal guidelines on how unspent campaign funds may be used after the polls have closed.

(CNN) – So you’ve just finished a hard-fought campaign for federal office, and after paying off campaign expenses and debts, you find yourself with a tidy surplus of funds left over in your campaign coffers. What’s a candidate to do?

The campaign may be over, but there are strict federal guidelines on how unspent campaign funds may be used after the polls have closed and all the votes have been counted. Win or lose, candidates have a number of options available to them on how to dispose of any remaining funds in their campaign kitties, but not surprisingly, “personal use” is not one of the options.

Candidates with leftover funds may do any or all of the following:

· return the money back to the contributors;

· donate an unlimited amount to charity;

· donate an unlimited amount to a national, state, or local political party committee;

· contribute money to other candidates, subject to allowable federal contribution limits;

· convert their campaign committee into a political action committee;

· transfer the money to a future federal campaign account.

Therefore, if President-elect Barack Obama finds himself with a surplus of cash from his 2008 presidential campaign account, he could essentially use that money for a future federal campaign, say, a 2012 re-election bid.

The rules are slightly different for Republican nominee John McCain because he acceped public funding during the general election. McCain may exercise any of the above options when it comes to leftover funds from his primary or pre-convention campaign account. But any surplus funds from the taxpayer-financed $84.1 million he received after accepting the GOP nomination must be returned to the U.S. Treasury.

However, this may all be a moot point if both candidates spent most or all of their campaign warchests. Exactly how much money Obama and McCain have left in their accounts won’t be known until December 4 when the next file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (544 Responses)
  1. Truth Hurts

    Obama is a great speaker and would be successful in a campaign to get elected, or to sell used cars.

    America you have been sold a used car, called Change, by a great speaker.

    Just wait to see how much mileage this used car called Change gets once it tries to drive down K Street!

    Truth Hurts

    November 5, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. ron

    I just read a blog from.. who ever, stating that palin had more experience than President Obama and another one that said that in a few months we would all be begging for bush to come back. After I picked myself off the ground from rolling around in laughter I decided to comment.

    To all you small minded, arrogant, little morons. It is no surprise to me or the rest of the world that your country is in shambles. Its because of the existence of people like you. 50 million people (who are smarter than you) choose Obama. Countless millions around the world are now celebrating a new beginning for the US. You now have a leader that can represent you all over the world not just in Texas.

    Write in apologies for your stupidy then smash your computer and don't write back.

    November 5, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  3. Truth Hurts

    Obama should return the money back to all the poor little people who gave it to him.

    He should also quit smoking.

    What a bad example to set!

    Truth Hurts

    November 5, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  4. undecided independent

    Charity !!!!! Jenn Springfield MA

    November 5, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. Sean

    He is free to keep my money for 2012!

    November 5, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  6. JP

    Maybe he can use the excess foreign-sent (non-tracable) contributions to fund an investigation as to why he hasn't yet released his birth certificate.

    Amazing... a man who by all rights couldn't get a security clearance as a newby intel analyst can become president.

    Stick a fork in her... America is dead.

    November 5, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. Oracle

    Obama should give the exces money, which is not his money but the people's money, back to the people. Obama must donate them money to charity and give the money back.

    November 5, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  8. Truth Hurts

    Campaign Finance and Hypocrisy. A lesson in Do as I Say, Not as I do, starring President Barryack Obama.

    Give back the money you said you werent going to take in the first place, Mr Hypocrite President Elect!

    November 5, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  9. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    DONATE IT TO ME!

    MY STUDENT LOANS PAYMENTS ARE KILLING MY BUDGET!!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. Independent Female Voter

    Put in the chest for 2012. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  11. Truth Hurts

    It shouldnt be too hard, he was able to return the money his illegal Aunty gave to him.

    Give it Back!!

    November 5, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  12. Tim in LA, CA

    I trusted Obama with my donations. He can do whatever he wants with it. Though I would prefer that the funds go to a charity.

    November 5, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Red, Red WHINE!!

    I'm so happy I want to donate to you still. I'm actually going through "Obama donation withdrawals"!

    November 5, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Reality Sets In

    How about he pumps that money in to the economy. We just had the worst post election drop ever and Obama is no where to be seen.

    Reality is setting in with the new President Elect. Lets just watch and see what happens over the next few days and see if Obama shows some leadership or does just does what he promised the American people.

    November 5, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  15. Biff

    "Niki" said on a previous thread that she wanted the "Blacks" to know that what happened took work, and that if you 'work' , then reward happens.

    Niki... you have just insulted me, as a hard working black man, my wife, as a hard working black woman, our entire circle of friends, all of whom are hard working black people, mine and my wife's parents, who are allhard working black people.

    if I pull the word 'black' out and substitute 'redneck' , hillbilly, or white trash, and then choose to believe it to my core, will that make it true of 'all' rednecks, hillbilly, or white trash???

    November 5, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  16. mume

    they should let obama keep his money, he needs to get a lot of suits obama 08

    November 5, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Rick

    How about purchasing a hammer and sicle flag to fly over his white house?

    November 5, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. Jorgor Barrie

    The election of Barack Obama as president of the US made me weep with joy yesternight. It shows that when given chances and opportunites Blacks can also rise to the occasion. I am happy and blessed that I was able to see the drama unfold and in one way or the other be part of the history.

    God Bless Barack Obama and his family. God Bless the Human Race. May God guide and protect Barack during his presidency And may the soul of his Grandma rest in perfect Peace in Heaven. Amen!

    November 5, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Frieda, SC

    Barack will do the right thing. I wouldn't mind if he used it to pay his transitional staff.

    This will be my last time writing Obama/Biden, as they have won and there's no need any longer.

    Thanks for your support.

    November 5, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. red33,cedar rapids, ia

    I hope he has some 'good' ones, and not just 'cronies'; he will need them; he has given us nothing but 'rhetoric' during all his campaigning; now is the time to 'fish or cut bait'. Show us, Obama, and give the stock market something to be happy about again, after your democratic friends took us down the tube on Freddie/Fannie. I am willing to give you a chance if you only show me you are not one of the 'good ol' boys' in congress, who will do anything to stay in power......to h- with the country.
    Too many in congress have this attitude.
    Keep us safe from terrorism, like Bush did, after 911, and don't turn us into a 'nanny' government.

    November 5, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    As an aside, Barack Obama's great-great-great grandmother's grave site has been located in Everett, Washington recently.

    She was a white woman from Kansas who spent her final years with relatives in the Everett, Washington area.

    I mention this because (1) it is interesting that her 1911 grave site was found–buried underground and located through burial records and (2) that we refer to Senator and now president-to-be Obama as an African American, but he is very much half caucasian and I don't think his mother's people, other than his grandmother who recently died in Hawaii, have been mentioned enough in the media for their contributions to Obama's life.

    November 5, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Maya

    Truth Hurts, being a great speaker does not preclude being a great leader. Your argument is a used car that has already been dropped off at the junk yard.

    November 5, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. jason

    Pay off Hilary's campaign debt!!! For sure #1.

    If it weren't for her and her slimy vetting of Obama, he would have been on defense his entire campaign against McCain/Palin and more than likely would have lost.

    November 5, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  24. Mike

    How about using it to start paying on his 1 trillion in new spending.

    November 5, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  25. Pinto

    With so many job losses and reduction in donation amounts. He should donate that money to orphanages or for the walfare of elderly.

    November 5, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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