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. nnate, OH

    To have all your funds completely dependent on the whims of the American people. A bold decision indeed.

    June 19, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. JC in SC

    Vanessa Del Rio
    Do you truly think that these ideas are original and not being fed to Obama by his team? In every endorsement of him, Obama has remarked that he is going to ask for this person's and that person's input and advice when he becomes Prez, the latest being Al Gore. At first blush, this seems admirable that he would want their input. But what scares hell out of me is that he will need it and require it for his presidency to resemble a real one. He will be running the country as a talking head, just like his campaign.

    June 19, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. al

    *************************************
    THATS WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE. YOU HAVE LOTS OF MONEY TO SPARE. PEOPLE FUNDED CAMPAIGN. STOP THE MADNESS. VOTE OBAMA.

    June 19, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Republican for Obama

    This is a decision based on integrity and strategy. Did he change his stance? admittedly he did. But I don't want a President that is unable to change their mind and choose the rightous course of action (we've had stubborn wrong decision maker in the white house for 8 years now, and it's been painful to say the least).
    Those who say he is tieing McCain's hands behind his back, well, I wouldn't want a President in office that so easily defeated. If this is the end of McCain, then do you really think he could survive the trials of running a whole nation, rather then just his campaign?
    Give it a break and stop finding pathetic excuses for a man that is simply not fit (physically, mentally, emotionally and financially) to be the President of the USA.
    Obama will win, mark my words!

    June 19, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. Nicole in NE

    All you people who are complaining about how much Obama raised, go give your money to McCain if you support him then and stop yapping.

    Give me a break

    June 19, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. PEOPLE WAKE UP

    By reading all of these comments you can tell who really understands what this means and who just dosen't get it.

    85 mil could go to those who NEED it!!

    He's making it on his own!!

    Let's see what happens with McCain....

    June 19, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Brian Knoxville, TN

    hmmmm

    June 19, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. caribbean

    This is a backward step. There must be control on the way we use money to influence voters while campaigning, there must be equal balance in funds for Mr.Obama and Mr. Mccain for this general election."Be careful what you wish for "

    June 19, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Texas Trail Dog

    GOOD GOLLY MRS MOLLIE! WHEN YOU HAVE ONE HALF OF A MONTHLY WELFARE CHECK THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS PAYING FOR GOING INTO A POT IT DON'T TAKE LONG TO ADD UP TO RECORD NUMBERS. REMEMBER WE THE PEOPLE THAT PAY THESE TAXES AND VOTE THESE PEOPLE INTO OFFICE WHO GIVE OUT WELFARE TO LAZY NO GOODS WHO WON'T BOTHER TO GET UP OFF THE FRONT PORCH TO FIND A JOB ARE THE ONES TO BLAME. SO KEEP ON GIVING, AND WITH OBAMA YOU'LL GIVE, AND GIVE, AND GIVE, AND GIVE UNTIL YOU ARE THE ONES ON WELFARE.

    June 19, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Independant

    Seriously....who cares. CNN is making Obama seem like god, which he is not. the people on this site will get a rude awakening if they venture to other sites and see that a lot of us dont share the same love for obama that they have here.

    I think Hillary running for presidend, as the first women, would have gathered more interest from across the party line then this candidate is.

    Wake up and see what else is going on in the world....

    June 19, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. Disappointed Democrat

    For all of the people who think it is good Obama is not taking tax money to finance his general election campaign, that he has PUBLIC funding, maybe you should try funding our schools in the same way. Maybe you should fund health care the same way. Just have people contribute the amounts they want. You sound an awful lot like Republicans – let the people decide how much to give, NO tax dollars.

    June 19, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. Lynn

    People, rather than elites, are investing in Obama. Good for him, and for us.

    June 19, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Joe the Troll

    "I won't ever bother to check the box on my tax return."

    Only a sucker would check that box in the first place.

    June 19, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. Leslie

    You can't take money meant for federal funding of elections and put it to something else – it is specifically earmarked by donations on the Federal Income Tax return. So all of you talking about the fiscal discipline are missing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is this: Obama is opening himself up to be bought by special interests. He has large powerful, corporate donors and bundlers, including prominent bundlers in the oil industry. Anyone who thinks that Obama's step is anything other than self-interested is completely wrong.

    He is so hypocritical, going back on his word to support federally funded elections (which is what makes a truly fair system – complete government funding of elections is what we should really be after), I am just disgusted with him at this point in time.

    At least McCain sticks to his word.

    June 19, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Sidney McCain

    McCain wants to go to Iraq w/ Obama (and "educate" him!).
    McCain wants to have weekly forums w/ Obama and even fly on the same plane (you know what goes on on McCain planes!)
    McCain wants to have a sit down on campaign financing!
    Is he looking for someone a little younger than Lie-berman?

    June 19, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. American Patriot

    Obama and Hillary are both BUILDERBERG GROUP MEMBERS.

    GOOGLE the Builderberg Group and see what it is, you will be frightened.

    Bill is a member , John Edwards is a member.

    Remember the other day when Obama dissapeared from the plane and left the Media reporters on the plane.

    He snuck off to attend the Builderberg meeting and so did Hillary.

    You people better wake up.

    People are already moving out of the cities and barrying cash,food,water and other supplies to defend themselves.

    You peole better wake up

    June 19, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Joe, also in Texas

    Rebecca; Texas: You're so right, but this change is good change, change we desperately need now.

    June 19, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. independent chris

    The secret to great oratory is that it is possible to reach out and touch people–to really move people (in so doing, to create a movement of people)–if, and only if, the speaker truly believes what he is saying. No wonder, then, that McCain is arguably the most lackluster orator on record, at least since the invention of radio.

    This is the reason for Obama's unprecedented fundraising success: people actually believe what he is saying because he does. While McCain supporters truly want to believe and somewhat act as though they do believe, the fact is that they don't and cannot muster the enthusiasm necessary to avert a landslide defeat come November.

    June 19, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Linda

    No one listened to me when I saidit would be politics as usual with Obama. Remember his Chicago ties - the Daley machine and Rezko. And now we're stuck with him because a dishonest Democrat is still better than a war-mongering Republican. Why didnt the Dems smarten up earlier and nominate Clinton?

    June 19, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. Brian Knoxville, TN

    captain,
    "Everything about this campaign and this year makes history."

    Are you referring to the way in which the first woman and the first African American ran competitively for the nomination of a major political party, or are you referring to the way in which the first woman and the first African American ran competitively for the nomination of a major political party only for the media and the supposed leaders of the Democratic Party to screw it all up by displaying excessive bias against one of the candidates and by remaining silent as others displayed excessive bias against one of the candidates, respectively?

    June 19, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. DR.

    After reading some of these comments, I have one thing to say... SHUT UP! The man is raising his own money, and your saying thats not a good thing?! Your making no sence! What about what hes doing isnt good? Why are you looking for any little thing to critise him on?

    June 19, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. JC in SC

    obinna
    What?

    June 19, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. Monte - Ex Democrat

    So Obama broke his word again. Doesn't anyone wonder how many times he has said that this government is broken and he is going to fix it, just what is he going to do? According to Obama, the whole government is broken, nothing is right. How did we ever survive for over 200 years without his help?

    The campaign needs all the money they can get, they have a hugh task ahead of them. Makeover Michelle when a large roll of duct tape would work, but no, they have to hire a full staff. Who will be running the country, MICHELLE.

    Obama now doesn't want public money because he is meeting with Hillary's donors next Thursday and will try hard to get them to donate to him and his phony cause. Someone better check, a lot maybe going to his family in Kenya.

    June 19, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. CWatson

    Obama's pledge was conditional if you read the words above it on agreement with McCain on financing issues like 527s. With McCain sidestepping the investigation into his opting out of public financing for the primaries, with the FEC vacancies that can be filled by the Repubicans and with McCain's inability to control the 527s, Obama is honoring his conditional pledge.

    June 19, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Kenneth M

    Kelby YOUR EPIDERMIS IS SHOWING. LOL, HE IS NOT EVEN IN OFFICE YET AND HE IS SAVING US HOW MUCH? $85 million!. $85 million! BUSH HAS NOT DONE THAT IN 8 YEARS!

    June 19, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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