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. Billy in NYC

    Yada Yada Yada...he is making unbelivable history. Can we get to the inaguration already!

    June 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Power to the People

    Way to go President Barack

    June 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. NYC


    June 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Harry C

    Big Deal! Obama Smart move! Kick McCain's butt!

    June 19, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. B. Churchill

    Don't close your wallet just yet, Barak – I'm sending more! As long as you don't take PAC, lobbyist, or corporate money, We The People will keep it rolling in.

    Paging Senator McCain – you're going to do the same, right?

    June 19, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Annette

    That's right set a change example for future presidential candidates...also to be honest , I never really trust that public finance system..

    June 19, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Agnostic Democrat

    And I'll be sending another $25 to him promptly. How many times does $25 go into $2300? 92 times, thank you very much! Hmm ... Let's see here ... I must have at least another 80 or so opportunities to donate!!!

    June 19, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. Dems 4 McCain

    Of course he asked them, he wanted to trick McCain into accepting it and not worrying about fundraising.

    As soon as it became obvious he could outspend him he went back on his word.

    So much for change we can believe in.

    June 19, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. Texas Trail Dog

    Who is the smartest guy in the room?

    Obama 08!

    June 19, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. JOYCE

    how wonderful of barack to do this. we will support his campaign and that money to go to another cause
    the red cross needs it for the flood disasters. this water is horrible, bush finally came back from a non issue trip overseas and is visiting the ares today
    to me a day late and many dollars short. the cost for his europs trip could helped many people

    obama would have been there for the people so would hillary clinton cause they care

    June 19, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. Thom Seattle

    We reguluar folk believe Obama enough that we will gladly fund his campaign. When he needs money, he only needs to ask – and he shall receive. How exciting to see the first candidate that has inspired enough people to be able to say no to public campaign financing!

    June 19, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. GIFTY

    Bad judgment

    June 19, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. shawn atlanta

    He is a history making individual, and I wish I was a historian because 2008 and the years to follow when Obama is elected will be years to remember and record accurately.

    June 19, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. Jim

    This guy rocks like AC/DC in their heyday. Seriously folks, this is history you are witnessing. Obama is going to steamroll McCain. Everything he does is unprecidented. The past year has been such an inspiration. I got on board in February 2007. People thought I was crazy when I was donating to his campaign in October 2007. My bro-in-law told me my Obama fleece would be worhtless by late January. I am so excited that I finally have a candidate to be excited about, a man in politics who I can actually admire. The campaign financing decision is simply another reason to get fired up. Can't wait for November.

    June 19, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. California Voter

    CNN your reporting is so unbalanced I have stopped watching most of your programming and changed to a station I never watched FOX news. Fox news was never as biased as you were during the Clinton – Obama campaign. Obama was given and is being given a free ride by the more liberal press and I find it a great disservice to the American public. This is the second story about Obama not accepting public financing for his campaign. WOW! You should also mention again that he had originally said he was going to use public financing. So much for keeping one's word.

    June 19, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. Brian Knoxville, TN

    Don't forget that Obama is trying once again to use rules unethically to win an election, this time to tie McCain’s hands behind his back . Just another same old trick that Obama used in 1996 to win his seat in the Illinois state Senate. That’s right, early on in the nomination process, Obama promised to use only public funding if he were to become the nominee. Now that he had limitless resources, he’s reneging on that promise. Even so, he’s not above using his new power over the DNC to press for an investigation aimed at forcing McCain to use only public funding to fight Obama in the general election. Obama, you’ve got to be joking.

    And why is Obama afraid to debate McCain fairly?

    Toward the end of the primaries and caucuses, Obama said that he’d debate McCain “any time, any place.” But now he’d rather debate McCain behind closed doors, avoiding the joint town hall appearance by fighting McCain over technicalities about how to run them, than debate McCain publicly and answer questions from real Americans like me.

    i guess Obama just can’t fight fairly or debate openly. Just look at his record…

    Doesn’t look like Obama can take the heat, and he’s willing to say one thing one day and the exact opposite the next…


    Puma PAC RULES!

    June 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  17. MD in GA

    This was a very smart move on Senator Obama part. After witnessing the "Swift Boat" problems Senator Kerry incountered in 2004 he knows that the attacks against him will be tenfold. It takes money to fight lies and he will need the publics help to do that... We are here for you Senator... YES WE CAN.

    June 19, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. Jack

    America is ready for change and they're putting their money where their mouth is!

    Obama 08/12!!!

    June 19, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. voter

    maybe the $85 million dollars should go to the people who lost their homes, the midwest flodding victims, katrina victims and the over 230,000 people who lost their jobs. just a thought.

    June 19, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. Democrat in FL (Sick of Obama-mania)

    Yea yea...Obama could fart and it would make history.

    June 19, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |

    Outstanding Judgent.

    Sen. Obama, please keep making history for all America.

    You have a mandate from the American People!!

    June 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Bishop

    WE THE PEOPLE for Barack Obama '08

    The PEOPLE will finance this champagne and NOT "SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS".

    Besides why limit one's self, if one CAN DO better.

    Stop crying McCain champagne...

    June 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. NickNas


    History AND a great Tactical move by Obama. We do NOT need another repeat of being held back while the 527s attack our candidate with their bottomless pockets and our Candidate cannot clear his name before the Votes.

    The GOP Machine is going to have to find a way to Black out the internet for Months in order to keep us all in the dark so they can launch their attacks.

    Hmmmmmm Just a thought. Could this UN_ EXPLAINABLE Doubleing of the price of Oil be designed to keep the regular people like us from having the cash to donate in order to force them out of power????

    June 19, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Xavier, Saint Louis, MO

    Folks, now that's CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN! And, I'll be the first to make another donation to his campaign!

    Obamanation '08


    June 19, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Herman in LA

    Change is on the way....

    June 19, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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