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. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @Truth Hurts

    ANGRY MUCH? SHEESH. GET A GRIP OR GO GET THERAPY. YOU'RE A SORE LOSER. MOVE TO ALASKA IF YOU HATE THE REST OF US WHO ARE HAPPY THAT WE VOTED AGAINST CONTINUING DUBYA'S FAILED POLICIES.

    November 5, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. keshia shelby

    We all stand to be corrected! We all need to let go of things that are separating us from moving forward.(all) people need to be given a fair chance before you judge them.lets start to earn each others trust.

    November 5, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Kevin

    charity

    November 5, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  4. Hey Truth!

    Hey truth! I've got something for you to smoke! Guess what it is!

    On a more serious note, if the republicans are so bitter, why don't they all go crawling back to wasilla with sarah palin. Let them secede. We don't want those sad, ignorant rednecks here anyway.

    November 5, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Ann in Iowa

    Long over due on helping HRC!

    November 5, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. JR Salazar

    Return most of the excess money back to the contributors, with a small amount to charity, Mr. President.

    Go!

    November 5, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  7. Ben in Dallas

    Dear Truth Hurts,

    You would not know the truth if it was a mack truck slamming you into ...

    Ignorance and intolerance is an enemy of civilization. You should think before you blog.

    November 5, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. JC

    I'm sorry but 53% of the population is considered a landslide in todays politics. That equates to over 7 million people. Bush won in 2000 by a few hundred and Obama won by MILLIONS! Plus, it was a definite landslide as far as electoral college is concerned. Remember when you neo-cons loved the electoral college because it got your guy elected even when he got LESS popular votes than Gore? Obama got 349 to McCains 163 (NC and Missouri not yet counted), so Obama more than DOUBLED McCains electoral votes! How exactly is this not a landslide?

    November 5, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  9. Obama 08

    Oh Republicans. Don't be jealous. It's our turn. You've had your eight years, and you screwed it up. That's life. Deal with it.

    November 5, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  10. Hillary

    Arden,

    The single group who benefitted most from affirmative action was white women. Yes, affirmative action deals with gender as well as race. Read up on that. Now, are you asking all of the white women to get off your planet as well?

    November 5, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  11. Ann in Iowa

    Help HRC... you really owe her.

    November 5, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. KTN

    I think he should donated the money for 2012

    November 5, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  13. Ken

    IT'S OVER AND IT IS NOW TIME TO COME TOGETHER AND HEAL THESE WOUNDS. GET OVER IT. IT CAN BE DONE! GET ON WITH IT!!

    November 5, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  14. Nate

    Matt, if you recall 6 years ago every one in the country was squarely behind George Bush. What was the result. He betrayed our country and the world for a business opportunity called the Iraq war. Bush took fear and used it to benefit the Halliburtons, Big Oil and big defense contractors. He had his opportunity and what did he choose to do.

    November 5, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  15. MK

    Obama should return that money to the donors, but then it may not be possible, because they are not real people... LOL
    The FBI should investigate all the donations that have been made through the Internet, to uncover any organized fraud. To be fair, investigate all the campaigns' Internet operations, not just the Obama campaign. But I bet they'll find a lot more fraud in Obama's campaign that others.

    November 5, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  16. Tracy

    Truth Hurts: I don't know what the meaning is of your multiple posts on multiple boards about Obama's smoking. Many past presidents have been smokers and no one has ever cared. Besides that, he is quitting. It's called an addiction for a reason. To imply that he has a weak mind because he hasn;t completely quit is ludicrous. The only "Truth" that hurts here is that you are so hung up on this one issue when most of America, and the rest of the world, is celebrating today. Get over yourself!

    November 5, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. Eric

    One of the things everyone who's paid attention to this campaign has to respect is how Obama went about it. This was the best run campaign in histort although I don't enjoy politics I respect and admire the excellence the Obama campaign achieved. From the strategy, to the execution and the discipline it speaks volumes about the potential for leadership. If he runs the country with any degree of the excellence he ran his campaign we'll all be better off.

    November 5, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. middleoftheroad

    Welcome to politics Amy, Chicago. You were no longer needed and were dropped by the wayside. Besides... the government knows how to spend your money better than you do anyway.

    November 5, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. View from under the bus

    I am probably the only one that will see this blog, in as much as CNN has never once printed me, but here goes.
    First of all: Thank god or whoever for the first amendment.
    Second, the only people that can read this are those with computers and the money to pay for electricity.
    Third: I did not vote for the new president.
    Four: Bush was an idiot, but it would seem that Americans like to vote for the wrong people, based on empty promises. And, they like to elect the wrong people twice.
    Fifth: I will take a wait and see attitude.
    Six: I will not do anything to harm him or America.
    Seven: I will not hold my breathe while waiting for the changes and the good times to return. Personally I feel they will get worse.
    Eight: I will not say "I told you so", at least not yet.
    Nine: I would suggest you not wear your best clothes when you are thrown under the bus.
    Lastly: If I am wrong (we have to wait and see) then I will be the first to apologize. My question is are you honest enough to apologize if I am right. If you want to dis me go ahead. I have suffered other slings and arrows and I am still standing. Take your best shot but remember I get a turn ,too.

    November 5, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. Sue

    Put the money into state election systems so they don't get caught with their pants down anymore when it comes to being prepared for millions of voters turn out.

    November 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  21. Will Griffith

    Amy, when you volunteer, you do just that "volunteer" if you want to get paid or otherwise rewarded, suck it up, your reward is a new president...

    November 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. TERRY E

    I'M TRUELY CONFUSED TO WHAT THE HATERS ARE ALL ABOUT BECAUSE IN THE NEAR FUTURE WHEN STOCKS GO BACK UP BECAUSE WE CAN A SMART PERSON AT 1600 NOW. PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE NOT USE THEM UP THE WAY BUSH DID.THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN SO PUT IT IN GODS HANDS.LOVE IS EASIER TO MANAGE THAT HATE TRY IT YOU MAY LIKE IT.......GIVE THE MAN A CHANCE FOR 4 YRS BECAUSE YOU GAVE BUSH A CHANCE FOR 8 YRS.......................................

    SEE WHERE WE ARE NOW!!!!

    November 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. kp

    Maybe he should pay the money toward the national debt....which neither Obama or Mccain talked about....he just talked about more tax and spreading the wealth

    November 5, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  24. Truth Hurts

    Just like Amy in Chicago, the buyers remorse for getting on the Smoke-a-rama Obama bandwagon is just starting. She couldnt even get a ticket to an event, the rest of you think healthcare, jobs, and an end to the Iraq war is coming?

    Too Funny!!

    Wait til 4 years from now. The backlash against Obama will be so bad even Democrats will realize what a mistake they made, and most likely try to get rid of him.

    People who can think and reason clearly can see the mistake electing Obama already.

    Truth Hurts.

    November 5, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  25. scott

    All this talk about work together – So we should just act like we see no evil hear no evil, and that you talk no evil. Just because we like to work & don't want to spread the wealth and have a bill or rights and constitution behind us. Don't try and make this about blue and red working together if that was the case you would admit that the speaker of the house should step down – This country is not left or right if it was left than the one of the three states would have voted for gay marriage – they didn't. If the country was right McCain would have won. We are in the middle of both parties and nobody get that. I don't mind paying taxes I love this county but I don't want to pay taxes to give it to somebody who doesn't work or won't work. Need money to protect the borders, highways, arm forces, no problem – spread the wealth, fairness doctrine, national health care (name one thing the government runs well). Anyway point is the blue states are like get along as long as the red states just shut up and spread the wealth. I won't to see what happens when Obama is president and if it hurts my business than it is only fair that the first to be let go will be those who hurt the business.

    November 5, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.