November 5th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
10 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. Setys

    JP, you so uneducated. McCain was born outside United States, in Panama, and he became a citizen because his parents are, to educate you, when one of your parents or both are citizens, even when you are born outside US, you are automatically a citizen.

    The only person that can not be elected as president in US, are those who got citizenship through naturalizaton,

    So, therefore, the truth is Obama was born in Haiwai. Even if not, are you so ignorant that you forgot that President Obama's mother is a US citizen?

    November 5, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. Aylah95

    Truth Hurts:

    I will pray for you. Talk to someone about your anger.

    November 5, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  3. Just Plain Tired - St. Louis

    For all of you people who really are hateful, miserable racists and "godless," to quote Elizabeth Dole, I will pray that the God many of you pretend to believe in will lift your hearts and souls from depraved abyss of a womb you fester in. I respect REAL conservatives regardless of their ideaologies; however you people in particular will decompose slowly in the graves you dig for others.

    This world is soooo much better than you. Specifically, Americans have proven that they are soooo much better than people believed. I've been proud of America lots of times before, but like Michelle Obama, for the fist time in my life I am REALLY proud of my country. For better or worse, this achievement is much greater than any venom you people spew. God has his hand here, and nothing you can say or do can change this.

    I am proud of John McCain for the noble display of honor, integrity and respect he displayed in the face of defeat. Millions of people who do not know this John McCain at least witnessed what people who do know him were talking about.

    November 5, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. blkkbbeauty

    More then likely its u rednecks or highly educated white trash that keep saying negative things about Barrak Obama, he IS the president elect, if u dont like it get the HELL OUT !! If a white man was elected you would keep that poison to yourself !! Dont worry about where he got the money, to tell the truth its NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS IF HE DIDNT GET FROM YOU !!!

    NOW GET !!

    November 5, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  5. Kelly in Arkansas

    Hey JP

    You need to expand your sources of information beyond Rush and chain e-mails.

    November 5, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Peter

    How about sending some to Joe -The plumber.

    November 5, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. June W

    Whatever he does you can be sure it will be a careful and thoughtful decision based on what is best, not for himself but for all of us.

    November 5, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  8. Texas Teacher

    Sheesh... I still hear people harping about Obama's citizenship!

    One more time, People.... it does not matter where Barack Obama was born. He was born of an American citizen, his mother!!! American citizens can have their children anywhere in the world... and they are American Citizens!!!

    November 5, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. WOW

    Some nerve! I have never read such unmitigated filth spewed by Obama supporters against fellow Americans ("Reptilians"? "Freakin' Repugs"? and on and on) as I have on these CNN blogs!

    And now you want us to unite? Not so fast . . . and we WILL remember !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  10. Brandon

    I say help pay off Sen. Clinton's debt, and then return the rest to taxpayers who helped you get here.

    November 5, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. Kelly in Arkansas

    Reality Hurts

    You lost

    November 5, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Do you want some cheese with that whine?

    I knew there would be some whiners out there but this is just plain crazy. McCain lost, it's that simple. He picked an unqualified VP candidate to rally the base and that is all it did. You turned off a lot of moderate and independent voters and even some Republicans. As far as 'Truth Hurts,' you really need to get some help my friend. There is no point addressing you as you are just a poor un-educated sheep for the Republican Party. Barack Obama is the leader of this great nation. Get over it or get out. That is what I was told when I voiced my dissaproval for Bush after the 2nd time. I hear Mexico is nice this time of year. Congrats to the Obama/Biden ticket. I worked very hard to get him elected along with many other volunteers. America deserves a good leader and they got one in Obama!

    Remember...Politics is like driving, you shift it in 'D' to go Forward, 'R' to go Backwards!!!

    November 5, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. grrrl

    Hey – I'm a Baby Boomer and I voted for Obama. Many of my fellow Baby Boomers did too.

    Don't mistake age for ideals.

    November 5, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  14. E

    He will probably get more money from people who claim they are poor. LIARS

    November 5, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  15. Cincinnati Dem

    So let me get this straight - people are upset that he didn't take taxpayer money for his campaign (whether or not you were for him), but got instead, donations from those who truly believed in him, and supported him (know my 2 donations of 30 dollars went to a good cause!)

    Left over money can either go for 2012, or, if he can, to help Clinton pay down her debt, or to charity. Though I couldn't give a lot - it can stay "given" - it doesn't have to come back.

    November 5, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. me

    hilliary's debt is her own problem, she should have quit spending when she ran out of money. If she broke her nest egg, thats her own problem to deal with.

    November 5, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  17. Marie

    Wow what a waste of time and effort. If you are posting comments on this site, it means you have access to the internet. Before citing the same negative rhetoric over and over, how about fact checking your information.This is a simple task, it may require some time, however you will not be perceived as ignorant.
    So McCain/Palin loss- move on. Today is a new day with a new president. We are lucky and privileged to live in a country where the majority vote elects the president. Other countries do not have the luxury. Count your blessings.
    If you feel that the country is doomed with Obama as the president. Here is some advice, quit your job, sell your belongings, gather your family and move away. Your negativity and immaturity is ruining my day.

    November 5, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Rick

    Oh, I know this is evil, but (please) chuckle with me....

    He should give his money to:

    1) Planned Parenthood
    2) NAACP
    3) Rainbow Coalition
    4) Amnesty International
    5) Sierra Club

    Is that gloating or humor? You decide!

    Yes WE can!

    November 5, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. Sam C

    If 2000 election wasn’t stolen from Al Gore especially in Florida Mr. Obama wouldn’t have the opportunity to run this time. It would probably be Senator Liberman or if Mr. Gore lost second term it would be some other democrat vs. sitting republican president
    Although I was a proud supporter of Mrs. Clinton I proudly contributed and voted for Mr. Obama. So you republican if should blame some one for your demise this election you need to point the finger to yourself for sealing an election for a not so bright president. Mr. McCain is a great patriot, I always respected him and I still respect him. Time & circumstances was totally against him hence the Great USA made another history almost as big as landing first man on the moon.

    November 5, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  20. grrrl

    Sorry, I should have been more clear –

    white, educated, female, Baby Boomer who voted for Obama.

    This morning, I felt like anything really is possible.

    November 5, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. Mr. Lugo

    To Truth Hurts,

    Fear. It's what's for dinner.

    Eat up big boy lol

    November 5, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. Truth Hurts

    To: All the morons who say "Whether you voted for him or not, he's your president now, and he deserves your respect. And if you don't like it… move."

    Uh, this is the hypocrisy of Democrats, now led by speaker/smoker nicotine junkie Mr President Elect Barack Obama.

    Sit back and smear Bush for years, and now that your smoker/ nicotine junkie is heading for the white house, we should all just get along and respect the president?

    Wake sooner the better.

    The sooner you wake up, the sooner you realize President Smoker in Chief isnt going to be able to accomplish 10% of what he promised you.

    November 5, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. Jessie Jay

    Don't be mad at the Conservative Christians or the Rush Limbaughs, Imagine finding out that God supported Barack after all the praying for McCain? Tut tut, could it be that even God is tired of the Republicans thinking they OWN him?

    November 5, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  24. Rick

    OMG how could I have forgotten?!

    He should also give some money to:

    6) NOW

    November 5, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  25. Nelson

    Truth Hurts....Does it also "hurt" to know that you and your party got your a$$es whooped last night. What gives me hope is that you and your ignorant kind are dying off as evidenced last night and 20 years from now when you're no long alive our children won't ever have to deal with ignorant clowns like you. I'm off to celebrate with the majority of america – you and your few colleagues can go ask Cindy McCain for one of those pills she swindled the poor people out of or maybe you can go chill with the Palin's at their Alaskan Indep. Party functions, either are officially obsolete! Good -bye

    November 5, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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