June 19th, 2008
09:15 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama's funding decision makes history

(CNN) - Barack Obama will become the first major party presidential nominee to refuse general election public financing in the program’s history, since it first went into effect in the 1976 presidential election as part of a package of post-Watergate campaign finance reforms

Candidates who participate in the program receive a grant from the federal government (approximately $85 million per major party nominee) from which the candidate’s entire general election campaign must be financed. Participating candidates may not raise or spend money outside of this public funding grant.

In February 2007, Obama asked the Federal Election Commission whether federal rules allowed presidential candidates to begin raising money for the general election and then later return that money should the candidate decide later to participate in the general election public financing program. The FEC ruled unanimously in March 2007 that presidential candidates could essentially change their minds and accept general election public financing - provided that they return any money raised for the general election while following certain guidelines. Obama’s actions were seen as a desire on his part to preserve the public financing option, while still enabling him to protectively raise general election money.

The contribution limit that a donor may give to a presidential campaign is $2300 during the primaries (i.e. “pre-convention” period) and if the candidate does not accept general election public funding, another $2300 for the general election (i.e. “post-convention” period). Any of Obama’s donors who maxed out during the primaries may start over and donate up to another $2300 for the general.

Obama has already been raising money for the general election, as allowed by law. As of April 30, 2008, Obama had raised about $9.2 million specifically for use in the general election. This is not the “matching funds” program, which applies only during the primary season, not the general election. The two programs are completely different and are operated under different rules.

This Friday, June 20, is the filing deadline for the next round of monthly FEC campaign finance reports, which will detail fundraising and spending through May 31.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Speechless

    Sen. Obama backtracking on his previous commitment to accept public financing? I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. so basically this means

    our money is not good enough for him to use, because it's not enough.

    we need to stop privately funding campaigns.... we pay taxes, and I want them to use my tax money to run a normal, clean campaign...

    haha like that would ever happen

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Bulldog

    That is because he the first person to refuse PAC and lobbyist money. John McCain is more than happy to except their money and even hire lobbyist who have had a direct hand in lobbying for policies and bills that have had a direct relationship in our outrageous oil and gas prices. These guys work for the big oil companies and McCain proudly employs these guys. Obama rejects them because their interests lie in the pockets of big corporations at the expense of the average American taxpayer.

    June 19, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  4. Disappointed Democrat

    As a Democrat, I am appalled that it was a Democrat who just destroyed the public financing system for presidential races. The public finance system is dead. The Obama precedent will lead all future candidates to raise as much money as possible to try to avoid the spending limits. I won't ever bother to check the box on my tax return.

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Enlightened Voter - He is incredible!

    Obama doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He is amazing and his promise of running an open campaign are being lived out. Of course the disgusting repubs will criticize all Obama's attempts at doing the right thing cause mcwar can't hold a candle to him. Besides people don't believe in john mcwar and can't in good conscience give to the repub like they donate to Obama. I for one put my money on Obama!

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. Independent for Obama

    Well, the PFS is flawed anyway and McCain will be going under investigation. I think Obama is taking a risk here but his campagin must be breaking all kinds of fund-raising records this month.

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. Tony

    Totally indefensible. Obama is a fraud and a liar.

    Zero respect for anyone who can't keep his word about something he stated as unequivocally and publicly as he did with regards to this issue.

    Anything to win/buy an election. He is just as bad as all the other crooks. So much for change.

    For sale: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

    June 19, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Kenneth M

    WOW! WHAT A GUY. BOOTSTRAP POLITICS. HE IS RAISING ALL OF THE MONEY ON HIS OWN ENDING THE MYTH THAT ALL BLACKMAN WANT IS A HAND OUT. IT MAY NOT SEEM LIKE MUCH NOW, BUT WAIT UNTIL HISTORY IS WRITTEN AND YOUR GREAT GRAND KIDS LEARN THAT A BLACKMAN WON THE ELECTION BEATING THE CLINTON MACHINE AND THE GOP WITH HALF HIS BRAIN TIED BEHIND HIS BACK. THANK YOU UNCLE RUSH FOR OPERATION CHAOS!

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. Jeff in Illinois

    Now there is a true fiscal conservative! I'm sure John McCain will be more than happy to continue using the tax money many of us cannot afford given the 80% food inflation and 300% fuel inflation over the past few years.

    June 19, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Brian near Charlotte, NC

    No tax money should go to political campaigns! All canidates should have to raise their funding dollars on their own without the aid of the federal government!

    June 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. Phil Newton, Murphy OR

    We won't get fooled again.

    OBAMA 08

    June 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. NoMcSame

    This is what and hot you show support by sending money and voting.
    18 million voters and they can't even give her $1.00 to help her out of the hole. What kind of support is that? All day they come on here and TRY to smear Obama with the same LIP service that they give Hillary. If you REALLY love her PUMA People and want to help her then send her your money and if you don't you are just full of HOT AIR. Show us how strong you are by wiping out her dept today. Now go vote McSame and shut your mouth.
    OBAMA08 with or without you. You can take that to the BANK.

    June 19, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Vanessa Del Rio

    This is a smart leader of a smart team.

    He plays by the rules.

    It will be so refreshing to have such competence and honor in the White House.

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  14. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Now that's smart !!! This guy was PLANNING and ORGANIZING as a leader should do.............. He doesn't need special interest money !!
    GO Obama

    June 19, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. NoMcSame

    This is what and how you show support by sending money and voting.
    18 million voters and they can't even give her $1.00 to help her out of the hole. What kind of support is that? All day they come on here and TRY to smear Obama with the same LIP service that they give Hillary. If you REALLY love her PUMA People and want to help her then send her your money and if you don't you are just full of HOT AIR. Show us how strong you are by wiping out her dept today. Now go vote McSame and shut your mouth.
    OBAMA08 with or without you. You can take that to the BANK.

    June 19, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  16. Beverly, NYC

    Great, since it public grant money can that $85 million be put to better use like the flood ravaged citizens of Iowa.

    June 19, 2008 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. Bill

    That is impressive and I am in no way a Obabma backer, but do not see/say everything Obama is about is bad.

    McCain 08

    June 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  18. I AM NOW AN INDEPENDENT!*********

    HE IS GOING TO MAKE HISTORY ALL RIGHT, JUST LIKE BUSH DID!
    AS ONE OF THE WORST INEXPERIENCED PEOPLE TO HOLD OFFICE!

    June 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  19. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Given his support from small donors, I guess it shouldn't come as any great surprise to anyone that he is not taking federal election dollars. Since I don't know the exact (or even vaugue) numbers of how much came in from small donors (less than $500), this campaign does seem to be doing quite well. It looks like the majority of the money is coming from the small donors. That is great that people are getting involved in a campaign. It now would be even better if all those people who contributed to ANY campaign would go out and vote in November; they should also encourage others to vote as well.

    June 19, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. Natasha/Supporter of Democrats

    Here's another one. Yes we can!!!!!!

    Obama '08

    June 19, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. JC IN NJ

    Does anyone out there still think McSame has a chance....?
    Honesty and integrity are going to win in November!

    June 19, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  22. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Everything about the Obama campaign is historic. I am proud to be witnessing this.

    OBAMA 08!!!

    June 19, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. prince nare

    l gues this is why this guy will win the election come november.

    June 19, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Larry, Apex, North Carolina

    The more I see and hear of Obama, the more I like him. He is refreshing-he has integrity!

    June 19, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Why try 08

    Whether you are for against Obama, one trait I am starting to see is fiscal responsiblity. Learning what his options are before acting, spending only what they have and most of all not going into debt. He seems very meticulous. Now you may believe he is a typical politician, untrustworthy, unpatriotic, and elitist but It seems he is a good steward over money.

    June 19, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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