WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint on Tuesday against the Republican Party for funding a $150,000 designer wardrobe for then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the group that filed complaint, argued that political candidates aren't allowed to spend campaign donations on personal items like clothing. But the FEC dismissed the case on Tuesday, saying that the purchases were "coordinated party expenditures" because the Republican National Committee spent its own money alone on her wardrobe, and did not use donations made to the McCain-Palin campaign.
In the original complaint, CREW targeted over $150,000 spent at high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus to outfit Palin and her family after she was picked as McCain's vice presidential nominee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached an important milestone Wednesday in her quest to pay the debt from her failed 2008 presidential bid: For the first time in eight months, her campaign committee reported having more money in the bank than it owes.
On a day most Americans were preoccupied with filing their federal income taxes, Clinton's campaign committee filed finance documents with the Federal Election Commission, reporting a total of $2.3 million in debts at the end of March, compared with $2.6 million in the bank.
The nation's top diplomat has been steadily chipping away at unpaid campaign bills since suspending her White House bid in June 2008, when her debt peaked at $25.2 million. That amount covered $12 million owed to vendors, as well as the $13.2 million she loaned her campaign from personal funds.
Clinton's campaign was unable to repay that personal loan by the time the Democratic National Convention convened in Denver, Colorado, last August, the deadline mandated by the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The former New York senator was forced to forgive the entire loan amount.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama takes his first stab tonight at the role of fundraiser-in-chief.
The president is the main attraction at two events here in the nation's capitol for the Democratic National Committee, the first fundraising test for Obama since he took over the presidency two months ago. As a candidate for the White House, the then-senator from Illinois had little trouble raising money: He broke all fundraising records, raking in nearly $750 million during his two-year campaign for the presidency.
The money raised at tonight's two events - at the National Women in the Arts Museum and the Warner Theater, where singer Tony Bennett is scheduled to perform - will come in handy as the Democratic National Committee struggles to keep pace with its Republican counterpart.
The Democrats won back the White House and increased their majorities in Congress in last November's elections, but when it comes to campaign cash, the national party's not having the same kind of success. The DNC raised around $3.3 million last month, while the Republican National Committee raked in over $5 million.
Thanks to a larger transfer of campaign cash left over from Obama's presidential run, the DNC was able to report $5.4 million in total contributions last month, slightly edging out the RNC. But when it comes to cash on hand - the amount of money the parties have in the bank - the DNC trails the RNC $24 million to $8.5 million.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A decision by the Federal Election Commission may ensure that the drawn-out Senate contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman will not end any time soon.
The Federal Election Commission recently announced that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee can establish a recount fund to collect donations that will be used to cover expenses related to 2008 Minnesota senate recount and election contest.
The FEC decision allows the DSCC to raise $30,400 from individuals and $15,000 from multicandidate political committees during 2009. These new contributions are in addition to and separate from any other donations made to the DSCC for its overall efforts to support Democratic Senate candidates.
Attorneys for national Republicans submitted legal arguments to the FEC in support of the DSCC and the practical effect of the FEC's decision is to allow both parties to engage in separate, additional fundraising to cover the mounting costs of the Franken-Coleman battle.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Democratic National Committee is backing a piece of trademark legislation championed by former GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain - asking the courts to allow it to defend the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform law against a challenge by the Republican National Committee.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as the McCain Feingold bill after its two Senate sponsors, banned so-called "soft money" – funds not subject to federal contribution limits and other restrictions – from use in federal elections and, at the same time, increased the contribution limits for "hard money," or money subject to federal limits and restrictions.
Originally filed last November, the RNC's suit challenges the law's soft money ban on the grounds that it violates the national party's right under the First Amendment to engage in political speech and other political activity.
In an effort to defend the law, the DNC announced Thursday that it wants to participate in the RNC's suit against the Federal Election Commission.
"Cloaked in the veil of a constitutional challenge, the RNC is callously attempting to dismantle needed reforms to make up for their fundraising deficiencies," DNC General Counsel Robert Bauer said in a statement.
(CNN) - The Federal Election Commission announced Friday increased contribution limits for the 2009-2010 federal campaign cycle.
Donors may now contribute $2,400 to a federal candidate during the primaries and an additional $2,400 during the general election. In the 2007-2008 cycle which just ended, the contribution limit for the primaries and general election was $2,300 each.
The limit for individual donors making contributions to a national party committee, such as the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee, has also increased to $30,400, up from $28,500 in 2007-2008.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Caroline Kennedy’s $2,300 donation to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was not returned because of her decision to endorse Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, a Clinton aide told CNN — it was sent back because the New York senator’s loss meant she would not be able to keep funds that had been contributed for her general election campaign.
The return was first reported Monday by the New York Post’s Page Six. Information available on Opensecrets.org confirms that a donation to Clinton from Kennedy was returned in August of this year, but does not provide any reason that the $2,300 was returned. Information available from the Web site of the Federal Election Commission shows that Kennedy donated the legal maximum of $4,600 to Clinton in June 2007 in two separate donations of $2,300 each.
Individual donors are limited to $2,300 to support a candidate’s primary run, and $2,300 to support a general election run for the White House.
A spokesman and adviser to Sen. Clinton informed CNN that Kennedy was one of approximately 8,000 donors who all had their contributions for Clinton’s general election bid returned on the same day four months ago.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - He’s the three-quarters of a billion dollar man.
Barack Obama's presidential campaign hauled in nearly $750 million dollars during this very long and historic campaign for the White House. That's more than twice what his opponent, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, raised and it's more than what George W. Bush and John Kerry combined raked in during the 2004 presidential campaign.
In a report filed with the Federal Election Commission Thursday, the Obama campaign reported spending over $100 million during the final few weeks leading up to the November 4 election, far more than McCain.
Obama opted out of taking public funds during the September to November general election period, becoming the first candidate for president to opt out of public financing since the system was created in the 1970s. Obama gambled that he could raise more money than the $84 million McCain received in public funds. That gamble apparently paid off.
Some other numbers: The Obama campaign raised $104 million in the five weeks leading up to and just after Election Day. And as of November 24, the last day included in this report, the Obama campaign had nearly $30 million left in the bank.
(CNN) – The Republican National Committee is taking aim at the campaign finance reform law that is one of the trademark legislative achievements of the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain.
The RNC announced Thursday that it will file two lawsuits challenging portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, a major overhaul of federal campaign finance law enacted in 2002 that ban so-called “soft money” from the federal elections and that is commonly referred to as the “McCain-Feingold” bill after its two Senate sponsors.
A suit to be filed in Louisiana federal district court challenges the law’s limits on the amount of money national and state political parties may spend in coordination with candidates for seeking federal offices.
A second suit to be filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., challenges the McCain-Feingold bill’s ban on the use of “soft money” for activities that are not related to campaigns for federal office.
The RNC is charging that challenged portions of the law violate the First Amendment. “The RNC must have the ability to support state candidates, coordinate expenditures with our candidates, and truly engage in political activity on a national level,” RNC chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement released Thursday. “The RNC has operated under and complied with these provisions of the law since their enactment, and as applied it is unconstitutional,” Duncan added.
Duncan and RNC lawyers are set to discuss the two suits with reporters in a conference call Thursday afternoon.
(CNN) – After nearly a month of Republican assaults on the fundraising of Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee is returning fire.
The DNC announced Saturday that it intends to file a complaint with Federal Election Commission about contributions to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Read: The DNC's FEC complaint
Democrats will ask the FEC to investigate whether the McCain campaign accepted contributions in excess of the legal limits, entirely failed to report contributions, and accepted anonymous contributions in amounts greater than $50. The DNC will also request a complete audit of all contributions to the McCain campaign.
McCain was a co-sponsor of a 2002 law that effectuated a major overhaul of federal campaign finance laws. The DNC emphasized McCain’s history of supporting campaign finance reform in announcing its complaint. "The McCain campaign's lack of disclosure and disregard for the law he helped write raises serious questions about John McCain's commitment to the openness and transparency the voters expect from their leaders," the DNC’s General Counsel Joe Sandler said in a statement.
The Democratic complaint comes after the Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign have spent much of October assailing the Obama campaign for questionable donations and for lack of adequate controls to comply with legal requirements in its phenomenally successfully fundraising efforts which has yielded many small donations collected over the Internet.
Citing press reports, the RNC filed an FEC complaint that seeks an investigation into donations to the Obama campaign and an audit of every contribution to Obama including those donations the law does not require the Obama camp to disclose because they are less than $200. Republicans have also recently sought to pressure Obama to disclose his small-dollar donations even without a legal requirement to do so.