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. Throw Obama's Aunt Out of the U.S.

    When is she leaving???

    She's an illegal immigrant who has already been deported, yet she lives off taxpayer money in Public Housing???

    This is an offense against all immigrants who are here legally and cannot get public housing.

    Where's the outrage on this? Is it going to be swept under the rug???

    November 5, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  2. Matt

    These 'blogs' are such a waste of time now – the election is over and this hatered toward Obama is shocking, it's sad and it's a small minority. Get over it, you're adults and like it or not this country is in a mess (two wars, shot economy, poor standing in the world) thanks in part to an 8 year republican administration and 6 years of that controlling the senate.

    So, give it up, The Republican party have had 8 years of power – in that time they were in charge as all things went wrong – Now – save your hate and negativity until Jan' 20th 2013 –

    November 5, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Pam Holt Los Angeles, CA

    $84.1 million from the taxpayers?

    Public funding is for the birds! And McCain was the hero for using it, and Obama the bad guy for not? We shouldn't have to donate to anyone we don't want to!! This is America!

    November 5, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  4. Annoyed

    HAHAHAHAHA. EAT IT REPUBLICANS!! Read on another cnn article that some of you cried yourselves to sleep. Why don't you do yourself one better and drown in your tears instead???

    I just can't believe Republicans have the gall to hate on others when THEY were the ones who brought in the Monkey in the white house right now. Talk about lack of foresight. Republicans, there are a few things I suggest you do:

    1. You sorely need an education beyond middle school, ok? So go back to school and learn something about the world outside your hick farm. You'll be enlightened to find out that there are good people the world over, not just in the US

    2. Try to cut back on the inbreeding. I know most of you find it to be entertaining and pleasurable, but science has shown it actually causes severe gene mutations that will reduce the likelihood of you achieving the above in #1.

    3. Once again, GET AN EDUCATION!! You're all ignorant hillbillies!!! And we've already witnessed what happens to the US when we elect a hillbilly into the WhiteHouse. So stop the hillbilly breeding and get an education. You're like a plague, and disgusting epidemic. Ew. The CDC should come in and quarantine you guys.

    November 5, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  5. Change

    To all of you who can't accept what has happened:

    Save all of the negative comments for your right wing sites and confer amongst yourselves – better yet, consider a move abroad – far away from this country that you seem to hate. We don't need you, we don't want you and when change finally comes and turns this great country around, look out because we won't let you back in. Those of us who chose to stay and fight for the country we love and the President we chose and donated OUR hard earned money to, those of us will reap the rewards of the power of Yes We Can.

    Your problem is that YOU and your small mindedness and ignorant thoughts ARE the problem. Move On.

    November 5, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Trillion

    How many kids can be educated, housed and given medical with a trillion dollars. Now times that by 10! My gas was $4.25 this summer and my milk was the same. If you want to be upset call your boy BUSH!

    Best Regards,
    Common Sense

    November 5, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  7. Larry Sinclair

    He can pay me palimony for services rendered.

    November 5, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  8. vera in VA

    Oh I almost forgot to ask if some of you were the ones in front of the white house waving the communists flag and wearing the communist emblems on you t-shirts. I wonder if thats a sign of what Obama brings with him?

    November 5, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Janine

    I donated money to the Obama campaign. He can do whatever he wants with it.

    November 5, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  10. Search for Truth

    To Becky, midwest, I haven't seen any sign of Obama hiding his mixed race. It was frequently reported that his mother was white. He spoke openly about why he suspended his campaign to visit his grandmother who was seriously ill, even though this would obviously bring much more attention to the white side of his family.

    Keep in mind that many African Americans have as much European ancestry as they have African ancestry, but they are still identified by all as African American. He was probably identified by others as African American as a child, before he identified himself that way.

    November 5, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  11. Frazier

    Hang on a sec Dutch...."The first clear majority in decades" ??

    The guy won by 6%...Would you call a 19-20 football game a blowout? Pretty razor thin in my mind...He may have won resoundingly where it counts in Electoral College electorates, by having a good strategy and winning the important states – – but it simply was not – "The first clear majority in decades"....

    November 5, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  12. Stock Market Disses Obama

    DOWN 500 points-that's the business world's answer to Obama's election. And it's going down more.

    Your 401 K's and IRA's are headed for zero, so you can forget retirement.

    Bad choice America,

    November 5, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. If you like the last 2 years.... vote Obama

    Give it back to wall steet, they gave you plenty already.

    November 5, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. CanIcallyouJoe

    I think this should quiet some of the people who aren't supporting Obama and crying "The economy is in crisis and look how much money he has!!"

    Personally, I would donate part of it to World Hunger, World Health Care, Reparations to Iraq, World Housing, Alternative Energy Development, and the rest into the American Educational System.

    November 5, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  15. Ryan Seattle

    It is sad that there is still bitterness and hatred. Can we make a deal to give him 6 months before the hatred starts again? Let's see what he can do and then judge.

    November 5, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. bashar

    help to pay my student loan and other loan pleeezzzz MR PRESIDENT OBAMA-–WE LOVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    November 5, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. JB

    Why can't we have some respect for the person that the American people chose to be our leader? I'm so tired of the name calling, lies, shouting, and hatred. At least give him some respect as someone who has come a lot farther than any of you ever will.

    I don't care if you agree with my point of view but at least respect me enough allow me to have it. Don't call me a moron or stupid because I don't agree with you. And just because you state you position over and over and talk louder and louder isn't going to make me come over to your thinking. Show me proof and make an intelligent agument and you may convince me.

    November 5, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Doug

    There couldn't be a better time to donate the money to charity with so many people hurting. Isn't that why we donated to him to begin with, because he cares about people in need?

    November 5, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  19. Matt

    dutch – you're so right –

    How come every problem is this country is somehow labled to the Democrats? Why, after all these years do you not hold acountable your own choice for President (over the last 8 years)

    Because it's easier to blame someone else than it is to admit that maybe the Republican party isn't the same one your father grew up voting for – you can thank Dick and Karl for that, don't try and take out your anger at this countries mess on Obama.

    November 5, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. Larry

    hey, I thought you were gonna spread your wealth around, a little bit??? Or, he can go "underground" to his friends and acquire a security clearance. He'll probably give it to his preacher Wright to help w/the construction cost of the preacher's $10 million home. Yeah, that's what he's gonna do......

    November 5, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. one point

    Ok, there has been a comment that has just kept coming up again and again on this blog. That is that Obama "calls himself black to get the black vote." Yes it is true that he is biracial, but in our country a person who is half white and half African American is considered African American. It dates back to the slave days. Obama has not used this to get votes. Get over it.

    November 5, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. JM

    Becky from the Midwest:

    I'd wager a lot of money that you are white, which gives you no right to presume how Obama feels about his bi-racial heritage. You have no idea. I am a bi-racial American and while I acknowledge both sides of my background, it is very hard not to be overcome by my minority half (asian). It's usually what makes you stick out as a non-white person, and that in itself completely changes your identity. Also, I'm pretty sure he would have received the black vote without identifying himself as black.

    November 5, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. California Voter

    Perhaps he should spend some money on a stylist to help his wife select her wardrobe. The dress last night was terrible . . . .

    November 5, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. S Ralston (Canada)

    Pay off Hillary's campaign debt, it would be the decent thing to do.

    November 5, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. Brian

    With Americans like Truth Hurts and JP........ who needs terrorists? It hasn't been 24 hrs since the election and they are spreading lies and hate... Wait they do have something in common with terrorists

    November 5, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
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