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. Nikki

    Brian in Knoxville TN wrote: "Just another same old trick that Obama used in 1996 to win his seat in the Illinois state Senate."

    Are you referring to the CNN story about Obama using election rules to his advantage in Illinois? Are you referring to him challenging his opponents signatures to ensure that they were RIGHTFULLY allowed to run for office? Are you referring to after his attorney's carefully reviewed and investigated the signatures garnered by his opponents it was determined by the rules that those opponents did meet the threshold? Is that the old trick that you're referring to? God forbid that Obama is smart and uses the rules to his advantage. LOL.

    June 19, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. Jeff in Illinois

    Brian in Knoxville: Congratulations on being accepted into the Full Fledged Neoconservative Republican Club! If only there were an alternate reality, ruled by McCain and Bush you could live in so that you could continue to enjoy the wonderful path Bush has set us on for almost 8 years now.

    June 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Peter Horan

    Oh man, Brian from Knoxville, please tell me you guys are going to come up with something a bit more original than "he's a flip-flopper." again.. the American people are gonna be too wise to let George W. Bush in for a third term... ermm I mean, McCain, if all you guys have is that old tired criticism.

    June 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Anonymous

    where does the $80M go now? If it was earmarked for the Presidential race and declined does this mean the Government has $80M to go to other needed areas?

    June 19, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. Fred

    If you believe that CNN is more biased than FOX news, you are crazy.
    Only this year, I notice that the FOX comentators are having a harder time believing what their saying (not all, just the more rational ones). Watch their eyes.

    I watch them both along with MSNBC and the other networks to see the difference in coverage.

    June 19, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. kingsley

    BRIAN, you are typing a lot and not saying nothing. By fact, Hillary was a better debator than Obama. but if you think mcsame will be a better debator than Obama you gotta be out of your mind. The man can't even talk. knows nothing about the internet. caught up in the primitive state of mind. And a different policy for each state depending on electoral colleges. He is continuosly getting caught in lies. The fact that Obama is not agreeing to that SENIOR CITIZENS TOWN HALL MEETING, doesnt mean he is scared to debate. His campaign doesnt operate from Mcsame demand. he offered to do 5. And yes he is playing a different type of politics thats why the GOP is confused right now. The book to beat Obama is not yet written and karl rove's book is worthless with this candidate. Obama is running a presidential campaign for a us president not senior citizen president.


    June 19, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Lucas, Nashville TN

    The Republican seep may weep... but McCain's in DEEP...

    June 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. Carol, San Luis Obispo, CA


    Let's not get into a tit-for-tat claiming Obama is unethical. How many times has McCain been investigated by the Ethics Committee and how many times has Obama?

    Furthermore, once each party has formally nominated their candidate they will begin debates. Until such time each party is running parallel efforts. It would be highly inappropriate for presumtive nominees to begin same stage debates.

    I think we are going to be in for quite an election season, but let's not rush what doesn't need to be rushed.

    June 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  9. DB

    I agree with voter

    June 19, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Rebecca; Texas

    America has forgotten that not all change is the good type of change.

    June 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Fred

    I can't believe the people who are always complaining about taxes and Goverment Programsare complaining about him not taking tax payer money. Sounds like a contadiction in your views (sort of a flip flop).

    June 19, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  12. charmaine sibblies

    Smart move on Obama's part! He's thinking outside the box..... change that this country needs. We're in it to WIN IT! OBAMA 08!

    June 19, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Virginia is Obama country

    Obama 08

    June 19, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Andy J, NY

    blah blah blah, and the media continues to shove Obama down our throats.

    CNN, why are you afraid to write articles on Bob Barr?

    How come you fail to point out the fact that the McCain and Obama hold ideas and principles about politics that are NO WHERE NEAR what our Founding Fathers believed?

    CNN is to liberal loonies as FOX is to conservative nut jobs.

    Can we please get an unbiased opinion from the major media outlets? Perhaps some common sense, and a sense of duty to uphold the principles upon which out great country was built? Please? Pretty please, with a cherry and whipped cream on top?

    June 19, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Veronica nj

    ok feduo...i would love to see you teeth...

    June 19, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Dj

    Change we can count on!

    June 19, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Veronica nj

    sorry "sick of obama from florida" OBAMA IS HERE TO STAY!!!!


    June 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. captain

    Everything about this campaign and this year makes history.

    June 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. Doris,Memphis,TN

    Michelle Obama is a strong, smart, and intelligent woman.
    Some of you can't handle that !
    Cindy McCain is a Stepford Wife.
    I will give her a cookie recipe that is not in a book!

    June 19, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. Obamabot

    It is not that there is a bias in all of the news, it is just that Obama is charismatic, exciting, and doing all of these new things. Hey McCain people if you drop the 95% Bush routine and try something new maybe someone will get excited for the republicans too!

    June 19, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. ginger

    Why would anyone have a problem with this? I know, haters.

    Sen. Obama is very intelligent and wise. Why take the governments money if you don't need it.

    And for those who are hatin right now ask yourself this question:

    The government can use the $85,000,000 to help the flood victims.

    June 19, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. proud army and navy mom

    to FEDUP:

    what would you know about poise and refinement? you are just one of those ignorant people that voted for George W, the liar twice... or are you a democrat in republican clothing?

    you are a flaming idiot who needs to do a tour in Iraq and maybe you will grow a brain.

    June 19, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. Bill From Florida


    I agree with you 100%.

    He is aready starting to destroy this country.

    June 19, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Obama-Junkie, IL

    This election is too important for Obama to allow himself to be "swift-boated" by the unlimited spending of 527 groups. Obama already called upon Democratic-leaning 527 groups to only contribute money to his campaign or the Democratic Party. McCain pretty much gave 527s the green light to go after Obama.

    This is a briliant move by the Obama campaign. The funding edge will force McCain to spend more time fundraising and also will push Bush into fundraising for McCain. This allows Obama to paint Bush and McCain as "McBush"!

    This entire 2008 campaign has made and will continually make history!

    June 19, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Brian Knoxville, TN

    Obama Rules and will be a great president, he will clean up the government and change the sick policitics of the past!!!

    Yeah OBAMA!!!!!

    June 19, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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