November 5th, 2008
06:00 PM ET
5 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. jason twombley

    steve...just which garbage dump do you reside in.......yur comments are totally ignorant, im surprised you can even type

    November 5, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  2. Carol

    Is there going to be any probe into all the illegal donations the Obama campaign received? This election was bought and paid for by many unknown sources. Did they come from Chavez, the Castro brothers, the PLO? Who knows? He has made everyone afraid to ask. If you do you are mean, evil, a racist, etc. I fault the news media for their total bias. They never, not once, questioned any of this. It will come back to haunt them and our country BIG TIME.

    November 5, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. karen

    Sorry this isnot on point, but I can't find another relevant site. Does anyone know the name of the music played right after Obama's victory speech at Grant Park? Vaughn Williams, maybe?
    Thanks

    November 5, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  4. Matt

    To all the people who keep saying we must get behind Barack Obama because he is the president now. Where was that same rational for the past 8 years. I'm no fan of Bush but I find the hypocracy unbelievable. You sound like a pathetic cry baby for 8 years and now that things swing the other way you demand loyalty and obedience. Do the other half of America a favor and just shut up and keep the Kool Aid to yourself. Respect is earned not given. If he earns it we will give it. Till then he still has to prove himself for once first.

    November 5, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  5. marge

    (((((Steve posted))))
    If this country is still here in 4 years, Obama will no longer be President and we will have a REAL COMMANDER in Chief elected to office, and not a CON-MAN in Chief. I’m so sick of hearing him ask the American people to help him. I am not working 60 hours a week to pay for all these idiots on Welfare that elected you to office. This just shows you, his lack of experience and his inability to be President if he needs help running the Country.

    And no, Obama did NOT have a Landslide victory. His Victory was not even over 60%. When 47% of America Voted AGAINST him that goes to show that this Inexperienced Corrupt Chicago Senator has bought his way into the White House with his smooth talking, saying what you want to hear tactics. Thanks to the Media and all you kool-aid drinkers, you guaranteed that the USA will be a foot note in history.
    ***************************************************************************
    Dumb (((Steve))) I know how you feel,truly I do. I have felt the same for the past 2 elections,when BUSH has taken us down into the hole we are in..
    How is it these Rethugs see fit to complain about the election of OBAMA,when we have BUSH to blame for the past 8 years of killing America.
    We won't be accepting any "insight" from the likes of you,since you obiously believe we could benefit by 4 MORE YEARS.
    BTW....DOESN'T MATTER ((((STEVE)))) IF WAS BY 60 PERCENT 05 1/2 OF A PERCENT..............OBAMA WON!!!!!!!!!!

    November 5, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. Riaz

    Give it back to the people who gave the money!!!

    November 5, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. Ghuman

    Obama: Stash the Cash for 2012. You will need it to deal the final and hopefully fatal blow to the Neocons and make them dead meat and histroy.

    Separation of Church and State.

    To the naysayers; Bite me. You lost and PEOPLE Won.

    November 5, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. JC

    Stokeman – your demographics aren't exactly accurate. Take a look at most states and you will see another trend – the poor and uneducated people who live in urban environements also vote left. And they will benefit greatly from government spending and the tax proposals.

    November 5, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Ronald

    Donate it all to charity that help the impacted American people from the horrors of the Bush Admin.

    November 5, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. LMT from Missouri

    Wow, I am shocked and amuzed by all of these comments. It is just to bad that in this country we can't have peace. It is 2008. We are a nation put together by many nationalities, races and religions. UNITED WE STAND........ DIVIDED WE FALL. We might as well be a tribal group in Africa fighting and killing eachother.
    The bottom line is what ever is done has an effect on more than 7 generations through our thoughts words and actions.
    Change starts at home. We all need to monitor our own back yard. Take care of Mother Earth, be good to ourselves and eachother.

    November 5, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. Poppy

    Help Hillary with her campaign debt.

    November 5, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. Marek

    Hey Truth Hurts and all you other clowns, your man "LOST" move. You are running your mouths now, but lets see if you start running your mouth when you bene fit from the changes that will occur. Your boy McCain should have made an agreement on the 527's, no he stomped away agree as usual.

    Reality Sets In, same message to you, man. So some of you pin heads won't forget, your man Bush, he is still President! Obama doesn't take over until January 20, 2009. So your boy Bush still has about 2 more months to finsh screwing up the economy.

    President Obama 2008 & 2012!!!!

    November 5, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  13. Frann Altman in CA

    I am struck by the bitterness in so many though i imagine I might feel the same had the tide turned in the other direction. But then I told friends I'd be off to Canada.

    I'd like to see him create scholarship fund for promising young men and women for college. Or an after school fund. Tutoring. Anything that has to do with education so that anyone who dreams of getting a hold of a dream, has some traction. How about funding to schools that treat special needs kids in low income areas?

    I donated to his campaign and I would be happy to know the extra monies went to help inspire those with desire.

    Yes we did. Yes we will. Yes we can.

    How about creating the Yes We Can Foundation.

    November 5, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  14. rusty

    Give the leftover money to charity, or to families of Iraqi war vets who are strapped for cash. Don't pay off Palin's wardrobe expense please.

    November 5, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  15. An independent from Maine

    Cincinnati Dem: It's nice to see people who still believe in the Constitution, no matter what their party affiliation. Thanks for an intelligent and well-thought-out comment. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    November 5, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. jm from sc

    As on of Obama's contributors, I would like to see the funds go toward his 2012 campaign or donated as he see fit to do with it.

    November 5, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  17. WIlly Brown

    Spreads the wealth Obama and pay my bills you rich snob!

    November 5, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  18. Andy - Atlanta, GA

    The left over cash is too little to do anything significant by itself. You have to do something SYMBOLIC, that will start some sort of movement, and inspire people to to keep doing something good.

    November 5, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  19. jason twombley

    fred...bye bye.we dont need you

    November 5, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. A Fellow American

    It is dismaying to see that the anger and vitrol in great display during the campaign is still continuing on. When are we ever going to unite as a country and learn to stand in some semblance of solidarity? Until we can do that as countrymen, we will never be strong as a nation. With the opportunites and dangers inherent in today's global markets and communities, we have to let go of our self righteous bitterness and move forward into the future, regardless of our party affiliations and our personal preferences. I, for one, do not want to think of my fellow countrymen as yahoos, idiots, or whatever similar negative terms I hear and read, regardless of what party one may belong to.

    November 5, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. Joe the Troll

    "And no, Obama did NOT have a Landslide victory. His Victory was not even over 60%. When 47% of America Voted AGAINST him that goes to show that this Inexperienced Corrupt Chicago Senator has bought his way into the White House with his smooth talking, saying what you want to hear tactics. Thanks to the Media and all you kool-aid drinkers, you guaranteed that the USA will be a foot note in history."

    Then Bush's EXTREMELY thin margin in 2004 must have really caused you some consternation. Or at least it would if people like you were known for consistency.

    November 5, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. Hilarious

    Everyone read "stokeman's" post, second one in the beginning of this thread. Absolutely hilarious. He "wonders" why more educated people have a strong corellation for voting liberal despite it not being in their best tax interest. Hmmmm. Maybe because education not dedication to ignorance has opened their minds to what is best for us all as a country. Oh yes and why do less educated of the population do the opposite. My god is this guy a dunce or what. This dichotomy is politics 101, give me a break.

    November 5, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Say it with me: President Barack Obama

    Hey morons who think you can still bring this man down,

    BHO will be an excellent president. So say 64 million Americans (see: Landslide victory, mandate) whose hearts swell with pride and 6.5 billion in the world who now see the greatest force for good in the world helmed by a man who has the heart and the mind to make this country as great as it ever has been.

    Anyone who still insists he is an Arab or a Muslim because of his first and middle name, or insists he is a foreigner because of his skin color or birth, let me spell it out for you. you. are. racist. Thats the end of it.

    In a balanced and organized democracy, we accept free and fair elections and pledge loyalty to the new commander in chief. If you dont like that, get the hell out. Seriously. The door is always open, and we will be fine without your nonsense

    November 5, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Ecor

    Dear Truth hurts; you got it right.

    OK; comment either ignored or moderated to extinction....

    November 5, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Tempered

    To Frann Altman: I had the *exact* same thought about how Obama could spend any excess money. Literally!! Right down to the name of the foundation.

    Felt like I woke up in a different country today. Yes We Can!

    November 5, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
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