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. TESAP

    BARACK THE VOTE PEOPLE........................... 🙂

    June 19, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. American

    set some standards Obama.....we are with you all the way!

    Go Obama!

    June 19, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. US Soldier

    Is this change enough for all the McShame lovers?

    June 19, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. ok

    obama is smart

    June 19, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. shelly

    The people of these great United States will gladly fund your campagin, for a chance at change and reform in washington. A president we can be proud of, President Obama!!!!

    June 19, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. Montana is Obama Country

    Thank you Barack Obama.. I will be making another contribution to you today..

    This REd State is Turning BLUE in Nov.. 2008..


    June 19, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. Tired of W, OH

    Personally, I like the idea of relying on his supporters' donations as opposed to taking the government's money. If McCain doesn't like it, he should ask his donor's to pony-up. After all, the republicans are the party of the rich, right? Could it be that McCain doesn't have the support within his party that he thought he had?

    June 19, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. Reality Check

    Obama makes history as the first presidential candidate to flaunt a system designed to protect the integrity of our electoral system by ensuing equal footing and meritorious candidacies.

    To add insult to injury Obama has taken preemptive steps to further subvert and misuse the system in the future by demanding an advisory ruling and used the DNC's influence to obtain just such a ruling.

    How can anyone vote for this guy??

    June 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. James in NJ

    I think I am getting bored with this election. I am the biggest Obama supporter but I am starting to see what the owner of Fox News said, 'it will be a landslide for the democrats in this election.' Even Fox doesn't believe in their guy's chances.
    It's not fun to see a race where one horse starts limping two seconds into the event.
    Either way Go Obama!, I can't wait to tape all of your State of the Union Speeches. I can't believe this one person would make me so interested in American politics. He is truly an inspiring leader!

    June 19, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  10. proud army and navy mom

    Sen Obama is an intelligent, solemn thinking young man who will serve this country with honor and pride.

    I trust him with the well-being of my son and daughter in the military. He will look out for our troops and treat them with the respect that they deserve. I feel very comfortable in knowing that.

    June 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  11. EMJ

    Barack is busting through all kinds of old political routines and that has been very enjoyable to watch. With this decision he is showing his belief in the small donation American voters like myself have given him thus far and will continue to do so. In the end this election will be remembered as the one where a progressive beat out the racist minority in this country. The world is watching. Don't vote for the same OLD, same OLD. Not this time!

    June 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  12. ChicoSez

    So Obama wants to go back to privately funded campaigns. Why? Just because he can. He outspent Hillary 3 and 4 to 1 and still lost most of the last primaries. The Obama camp knows that on equal financial footing, Obama loses. He has to spend 2 or 3 times as much money as his opponents because he is such a flawed candidate. So who cares about past promises, that was just words and we all know how much words mean, don't we?
    McCain/Clinton 08

    June 19, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. Isaac

    This is my idea of true leadership, knowing when to take handouts & when to keep people involved, viva Senator Obama. I cannot wait to hear how friends on the otherside of the political divide will throw on this issue.

    June 19, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  14. reelverse

    I don't get it. What does this benefit him?

    June 19, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. World Angel

    History is being made early. Saving money is a very good start. I really believe we're headed in the right direction. Keep Praying.

    June 19, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Leo- Canada

    I applaud him for declining, the economy is better served by spending that $170 million in tax dollars on more constructive projects that benefit the people ... if he can raise the funds on his own it only shows once again just how bright and responsible this candidate really is ... Americans should be proud to have such a candidate running for their top office.

    June 19, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. One Vote

    The intelligence and integrity that OBAMA will bring to the White House will be refreshing and much needed.... He inspires and challenges the American people to stive to be better people....

    OBAMA 08....

    June 19, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  18. Nicholas

    Obama nomination is historic and he can't afford to loose the election to the White House that the Dems badly need. Adhering to public financing will severely limit his options in a tight election year.
    This is a wise decision against a formidable GOP attack money machine.
    Kudos to Obama!

    June 19, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. HappyObamite,Maryland

    Yeah!!!!!!!!!!! The party of the people defending the interests of the people!!!!!!!!!
    No wonder McSame is flipflopping so much. He has to do what he is told to by hismultimillionaire fundraisers. The clock is ticking for you McSame. Read the story of the french revolution and you will know what we are talking about

    June 19, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Kelby from Houston, TX

    *singing* we're in the money. we're in the money.
    Obama is like "I got the check, playa. You can put your pocket book up."

    June 19, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. paulie_nj

    Actually it just allowed him to change his mind later if he found that he could not raise enough money himself. So basically he is declining it simply because he knows he can raise more money on his own.

    June 19, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  22. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    We are proud to have donated ........ and will continue to donate, to this decent man.

    With ALL the experience McCain has, when it came right down to it, he choose to be on the wrong side of big oil, war, foreign policy...... etc., etc.



    June 19, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. MD

    I am particlularly happy to read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning which addressed the concern of Republican women with McCane's policies regarding their issues such as abortion.

    I think there will be a flood of donations to the Obama campaign, not only from Democrats and Independents, but also from many intelligent Republicans, especially women, who see John McCain as a serious threat to preserving Roe v. Wade, among other issues.

    The decision to forego public funding is a wise one, as McCain has shown that he is a begger with a cap in hand, and doesn't care who throws the money in his cap.

    June 19, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. linda n carolina

    Take all this public money that will not be used and give it to the flooded states for rebuilding...Use it where it's really needed,

    June 19, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Bob (Maryland)

    Good decision! People who donate money are accordingly more likely to show up at the polls on election day.

    June 19, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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