October 5th, 2008
04:19 PM ET
13 years ago

RNC to seek audit of all contributions to Obama campaign

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/05/art.boberlin1005.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Obama's July speech in Berlin drew tens of thousands. Now the RNC wants an audit to determine whether the federal ban on contributions from foreign nationals may have been violated."]
(CNN) – The fund-raising prowess of the Obama campaign may be put under a microscope, if the Republican National Committee has its way.

The RNC announced that it plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Committee Monday that seeks an audit of the more than $450 million donated so far to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The complaint will address two issues highlighted in a recent Newsweek report about the Obama campaign’s fund-raising. First, the RNC will ask the federal agency responsible for enforcing campaign finance laws to audit and inquire into whether the Obama campaign accepted any money from foreign nationals, a contribution source prohibited under federal law.

“We believe that, based on the law, the Obama campaign has accepted contributions from foreign nationals and has knowingly done so through at least its failure to reasonably investigate where all this money is coming from,” RNC Chief Counsel Sean Cairncross told reporters Sunday.

Listen: RNC announces plans to ask for an audit of Obama camp's fund-raising

The FEC defines foreign nationals as foreign governments, foreign political parties, foreign corporations, foreign associations, foreign partnerships, individuals who are foreign citizens, and immigrants to the U.S. who do not have a “green card,” showing they are permanent residents or are lawfully admitted to the country.

Second, the RNC plans to ask for an audit of possible excessive contributions to the Democratic nominee. “The Obama campaign has a track record of accepting these,” Cairncross told reporters, referring to recent FEC requests directed at the Obama campaign to explain what appear to be multiple small donations from single donors listed in the campaign’s finance reports which violate the contribution limits when aggregated.

The Obama campaign was quick to turn the McCain camp's critical eye back onto McCain's own fund-raising. “Because of campaign finance issues, John McCain has had to return over $1.2 million to donors who potentially violated the law with their contributions," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement Sunday. "We look forward to a thorough investigation into whether John McCain’s campaign has returned all of the money it raised from foreign nationals," Burton added.

The Obama campaign also responded to the RNC's claims that it may have received some contributions prohibited by federal law. "Without accepting a dime from the Washington lobbyists or corporate PACs that have funded John McCain's campaign, our campaign has shattered fundraising records with donations from more than 2.5 million Americans. We have gone above and beyond the transparency requirements by disclosing our bundlers and the levels of contributions they raise. We constantly review our donors for any issues and while no organization is completely protected from internet fraud, we will continue to review our fundraising procedures to ensure that we are taking every available to step to root-out improper contributions,” Burton said.

As the primary season ended and presidential race turned to the general election phase, Sen. Barack Obama announced that he had decided not to take public financing – a declaration that appeared to go back on his earlier commitment to work out an arrangement about public financing with the Republican nominee.

Watch: I'm opting out, Obama says

Sen. McCain, however, decided to take public financing during the general election race and is now limited to spending the $84 million given to his campaign by the federal government. Because Obama declined public funds for the general election, his spending is not limited by federal law.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • FEC • John McCain • Popular Posts • RNC
soundoff (701 Responses)
  1. american

    this is just another desperate tactic by a dismantled GOP. they have ruined they country and are now trying to grasp at straws.

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  2. MARE

    It is more than fair to have them look into this. From the beginning I have always wondered where his "fund raising prowess" comes from. It seems as though impossible record amounts of contributions keep rolling in every month. They can point their guilty fingers at McCain but let's see how this one transpires.

    Shed some light on this guy please. He is shady and the American people have a right to know.

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. Marie in California

    Since the government is falling down on the job regarding this, I commend the RNC for stepping in and demanding that it be done. This should have been done much sooner. McCain has been very open about the sources of his contributions, while the Obama campaign has, under one ruse or the next, been very "hush-hush" and balked at revealing their donor sources to public scrutiny.

    I've often wondered how much of Obama's money comes from overseas, with special concern about "countries that don't like us very well," like some in the Middle East. Their leaders would most definitely like to see Obama be our next president!

    McCain-Palin – 2008

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Michael

    When you're losing an election you try to start all these little rumors, but John McCain, it isn't going to work this time.

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Alex

    Grasping at straws much? I don't think the RNC understands how much the public literally hates their brand right now. My parents and I have donated maximum to Obama and none of us have ever given to a candidate before. It's not that he's cheating it's that a giant percentage of the country hates Bush/McCain/Palin SO MUCH that a ton of people are giving money that never have before.

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Michael B

    Yes, the McCain campaign had 1.2 million in unwanted donations. But they discovered them, a lot of times independently, and returned them. The act that the Obama campaign is unwilling to even do the littlest of management to prevent this, well, it shows how low and unethical they can be, and I don't want a crook in the Oval Office.

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  7. Gen Johnson

    I'm sorry, but the Republicans are just upset that they couldn't raise that much money. Maybe if they had a more inspiring candidate?

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |

    I made a $20 donation last Friday morning to Obama's campaign.
    He can thank Sarah Palin's performance during Thursday night's debate.
    I gave $1 for each time that she:
    said "Maverick" $5
    said "Joe Six Pack" $1
    said "Hockey Mom" $1
    said "new-cue-lar" $5
    said "darn right" $1
    said "heck of" $1
    said "drill, baby, drill" $1

    Then I threw in $2 for each time she wrongly called the general in Afghanistan General McClellan.
    I threw in another $3 for each time I laughed out loud at her stupidity.

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Dave in NYC

    Read up America: the GOP wants to find out who contributes to Obama, and that means the MILLIONS of YOU – regular people – who are sending 5, 10, 20 dollars. I don't know about you, but I don't want MY privacy invaded by the GOP!

    The GOP wants to look at all of us regular folks, and if they find someone they don't like they are going to attack US because they have no ideas, no solutions, of their own!

    October 5, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Terrance Craion

    Truly sad does the RNC have any sense of decency? As an independent I have been completely turn off by McCain and RNC's tactics. From fear to wedge issues to use of foreclosure list to challenge one's voting right to a potential audit! I would like to challenge the RNC to win actually on fairness and the issues! But perhaps I am asking for too much!

    Detroit, MI

    October 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. ohio

    hahahaha GOP is chasing a cat now lol Gop get a life

    October 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. bibek

    Somebody fears the battle is slipping away....

    Distractions.. fear.. lies....

    Anything else we should expect?

    October 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Al Mellen

    If i am correct,,,,,,,the McCain people decided at the beginning,,they would accept government money,,,,,,both parties could do this if they so wanted. However by accepting government money,,,there is a limit put on that source. The Obama people decided to forfit that option,,,they would go with small donations from whomever. The Obama plan has allowed the democrats unlimited amounts of money, this is a good way to do business,,,,as long as the donors are there. Apparently the donors have been there to help the Obama people. The McCain people are running out of money,,,,,this was there choice when it came to raising funds. Senator McCain made a mistake by taking public financing. This is another example of how the McCain people operate. In the past two weeks the whole world has witnessed mistake after mistake,,,,,,,whether it was Governor Palin,,,,,the nice lady from Alaska who is being used by Senator McCain,,,,,,,or the Senator's rushing back to washington to settle the financial bailout of wall street. Your days are getting shorter Senator. Why don't you go home to one of your many homes,,,,,,retire.

    October 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. LifeLongDemocrat

    Sour grapes, anyone!

    October 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. rich

    I guess thats the issue when you dont accept public funds. I wonder if that guy from hezballah who endorsed obama gave him money

    October 5, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. Lani in Los Angeles

    Good try RNC but I think Obama is prepared for the investigation. They had better watch temselves before the RNC ends up getting investigated.

    October 5, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. TangoDancer

    The request may be legit by the GOP, but they'll have to come clean with their own contributions. For my part, as a US citizen living in the USA – I've donated $800 to the Obama campagin. My aggregate total to date is far less than the $2,300 maximum amount. I'll be donating $200 more in October. The stakes are high. We must win this battle against the regressive GOP. The world is depending on our efforts.

    October 5, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Mark

    Did not the Obama camp send an army to dig up dirt on Palin? Did not Obama FLIP FLOP on public campaign funding? The RNC should try to expose any fraud.

    October 5, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. NickNas

    And it Starts...........

    The Desperate flailing of distractions.

    So I guess they want over a MILLION donors to stop what they are doing and send in copies of our IDS and such? Is the McCain Campaign going open ALL of its booksto the FEC as well? I doubt it , that would not be in keeping with their " We do what we want without questions but you........"

    I think McCain just opened a door that HE may wish had stayed closed.

    October 5, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Michael in Little Rock

    If there's one thing you can count on, it's for the Republicans to get nasty and petty when they realize that they're losing an election. They can't help it, really - it's just a natural part of their overall psychological composition.

    Is there anyone out there who truly believes that the Republicans are doing this for anything other than purely political reasons? If so, I've got a bridge in Alaska to sell you.

    October 5, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. Fred

    Hmmmm – the RNC and McCain are famous for suddenly attacking their opponents in an area in which they have a serious serious flaw that will look really bad when exposed.

    This activity should prompt an investigation of RNC finances immediately. It is likely they are trying a preemptive attack so they can whine – "but we aren't the only ones doing it "- – as soon as they are caught.

    October 5, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. Tim

    Read the liberal based newsweek story. Even they show that the Obama is accepting fraudulent contributions, and is not releasing enough information to determine if there are other illegal contribution. McCain on the other hand, is fully transparent. So while Obama may have raised contribution from 2.5 million Americans, it will likely be shown that he has also accepted contribution from a significant number of foreigners. If he has, sorry, but that is unacceptable in the USA. It may be acceptable to the president of the world, but not for my president.

    October 5, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. cmars

    they're obviously jealous that people actually WANT to donate to obama, not just huge corporations looking to buy off mccain.

    October 5, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Tracy

    They just can't believe any nominee could raise so much money from "just" the American people. They don't believe that millions of donations, of five bucks or ten bucks or twenty, could possibly add up to so much money. No surprise they can't do math - we've known that for years. The Republican party has consistently underestimated the American people and American patriotism, to their detriment.

    October 5, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Robert Deming

    The donations are there because we want "change". I personally donated more then $300 to Obama. This is my first donation to a person seeking public office and I am 60 years old.

    So, RNC you are spending lots of money to find out the truth. Just accept the fact that you are loosing and will lose this election.

    October 5, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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