November 18th, 2008
11:25 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama still fundraising even after taking in hundreds of millions

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Money donated to support Obama's campaign can't be used for the transition or the inauguration so President-elect Obama is still fundraising."]
(CNN) - After raising a staggering amount of money for the general election, President-elect Barack Obama must now rake in more cash for his transition and inauguration.

There is about $9.74 million of taxpayer funds available to pay for the transition, but experts say that's not enough.

To make up the difference, past presidents have turned to private money and corporate cash.

Obama's transition team, however, is taking pains to keep lobbyists out of his transition and forgo corporate cash.

John Podesta, the co-chair of Obama's transition team, has vowed to make this "the most open and transparent transition in history," but Obama has not explicitly outlined his intentions for the inauguration.

The transition team said an announcement will be made next week on how the event will be funded.

The Obama team will have to balance how to raise enough money without contradicting Obama's tough talk during the campaign against lobbyists.

"I really do hope Obama sticks by his principles and does not accept corporate money, does not accept money from lobbyists, and places a very, very low ceiling on the amount of money he'd accept from individuals to pay for his inauguration," said Craig Holman, a legislative representative for Public Citizen.

Public Citizen is a national nonprofit organization that says it advocates for consumer interests in Congress and openness and democratic accountability in government.

The group says companies sometimes contribute cash to the inauguration in order to buy influence.

President Bush raised a record $42.8 million for his second inauguration, and according to Public Citizen, more than 90 percent of donations to that ceremony were from executives or corporations.

Bush limited corporate donations to $250,000 each in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Obama could decide to accept corporate donations for the inauguration, but may impose tighter limits.

"I think past presidents have had to raise lots of private money to do these things. And I think he's actually got a good resource base of donors that are willing and probably will give money for both the transition effort, but also the inaugural campaign as well," said David Lewis, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and author of "The Politics of Presidential Appointments."

Even without corporate cash, the Obama fundraising machine has been a force. Nearly half of the record $639 million that his campaign raised during the primaries and general election came in the form of donations of $200 or less.

As of mid-October, the Obama campaign had spent about $594 million, but any money left over from the general election cannot go toward the transition.

The president-elect could return that money to contributors, donate it to charity, form a political action committee or contribute to other candidates, PACs or party committees, as long as he stayed within the federal contribution limits.

Obama could also hold on to the money and use it for a future federal campaign, like a re-election bid.

The public will get a better idea of exactly how much cash is on hand when the next reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission on December 4.

soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. pam Eugene OR

    I admire President elect Obama stance and I will give to him once again.
    I gave till it hurt during the campaign so Barack could keep special interests out and I will do it again now. He is such an admirable man. Others, Stevens, Lieberman, Huckabee, not to mention, O'Riley, Hannity and Rush could learn a lot from this honest man.

    November 18, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Bill

    Sorry, I already donated enough to Obama to get him elected. To me, that was the important part. I don't see why I should have to donate more so he can have an inauguration party.

    November 18, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Uncle Fester

    Rick November 18th, 2008 11:39 am ET

    Why is this going on. Also why are there still questions about Obamas' birthplace.

    Rick, there are no questions about Obama's birthplace except in the minds of you right-wing nuttards that apparently have a learning disability. Get over it.

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. bill from pa

    Times are tough for most Americans these days. Here's a novel approach for Obama. Lead by example and cut out all the fanfare. True leadership has been missing from our government for a very long time. Show us some real change.

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Pamela

    I'm not giving a dime if I don't get a ticket. I think the Senate offices are rigged. All of the staff's friends and family are going and everyone else can just get in line, literally. Let him pay for his own inaugural.

    November 18, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. Alaskan Fame Junkie

    Campbell Brown is a moron. Obama has not hired an actual lobbyist into his administration. It's VERY obvious from what she's been reporting for the past month or so where her loyalty lies. Sounds like a load of bias and bull to me.

    As for raising funds through independent donors...I say go for it. I donated money to the President Elect several times during the campaign. If it keeps lobbyists out of the deal, I'd be willing to do so again. Personally, I think it's the smart way to go.

    November 18, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Pamela

    Nine million dollars is plenty. I wish someone would give me nine million dollars to plan a party. I'd throw a great party.

    November 18, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. EW

    Tell me agian why I shold donate my hard earned money to the extravagant coronation of our Emperor, I mean President.

    Looks like I might be one of the first to be 'disappeared' by the new administration.

    November 18, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. David

    Of course. These are politicians. They are fine with money grubbing your cash. And lying (see Campbell Browns video today of this dude lying about lobbyists). One day the people will take this Republic back from this two party scam. I would not want to be in their shoes.

    November 18, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Madrep

    You wanted him, you got him. Now, suck it up!!! That includes you CNN and the pro liberal media.

    November 18, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Ted

    Rick, Rick, Rick...
    Do you intentionally keep your head in the sand or does someone keep it there for you?

    November 18, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. Gal, Ohio

    I think you can tell who the sore losers around here are....I will happily contribute what I can, the same as I did during the campaign. I will also wait to whine / complain until I actually see the money was wasted on frivolous things...just saying 😉

    November 18, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Jeannie

    I'm tappedd out Obama.. I gave you what I could but I can't give anymore. What are you going to do when you need more money and more money? I see lobbyist coming back to the WH. Did I make a mistake?

    November 18, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Chris

    I think the citizens who donated to Obama's campaign would donate anything they could to the inauguration. Look what we did for the election! I'll be glad to donate. I think he's trying to do all he possibly can to avoid ANY kind of lobbyist or corporate monies. But lord knows he deserves a top drawer inauguration! He certainly EARNED it! Hey, he can get Oprah to fork over some bucks. I doubt she's looking for favors....

    November 18, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    @ RICK, are you a TOTAL MORON???? DO you REALLY have such little faith in your country and government?? DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT....... ANYONE......CAN BECOME PRESIDENT......WITHOUT....PROOF...... OF ...U.S. ....... CITIZENSHIP???????

    Considering the enormous COST of transition, all the legal battles fought because the GOP challenged everything in the courts, etc., its no wonder that contributions are still coming in! Who do you think funds the balls and parties held for the inauguration????

    IF you READ the article above, you will learn, that Bush raised, $42.8 for his inauguration! And that the majority of his money came from CORPORATIONS. Whereas the majority of Obama's money, comes from we, THE PEOPLE! Quite a difference!

    November 18, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. David

    oh come on Crazy Cat Lady- rick is ok. The birth certificate thing will never bite him as they covered it completely. A certificate of Live Birth was created in Hawaii. That's fine but you can be born in another country and have a certificate of live birth made. I had it done so that does leave some questions. Still, I'm sure they got it covered for the prophet. Now we can sit back and let him save us and put gas in our cars and food on the table and let me keep my house!!! yay!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. wait a minute

    In this economy, the utterly most important thing for this inauguration is to keep President Obama safe. Other than that, he will be sworn in no matter what. I am looking forward to an Obama administration for real change, hopefully without too many Clinton fingerprints.
    Let's not forget, "Yes, we can."

    November 18, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Arthur James

    Why the heck do they need so much money for a "transition" and inauguration? Everyone can watch the inauguration on TV practically for free.

    Scale back the parties and celebrations. This is no time for cake.

    Then roll up your sleeves and get to work. Let's celebrate when the economy is back on track and we can afford it.

    November 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Jo Anne

    Where was all of this negtive thinking 8 years ago. I am so sick of all the people who can't accept that President Elect Obama has and still bring the nation together. If you don't want to send your money then don't, but stop trying to blame the world problem on Mr. Obama who will be our next president of the U.S.A. Stop the hate. He can get my donation.

    November 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. SS, Washington

    Count me In my friends and family!!!!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |





    November 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. W O W WO W

    thank you for destroying public financing for the ages

    November 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Rogerd

    With the country is such dire economic crisis, wouldn't it prudent just to keep it a simple as possible....Inaugration ceremony on the steps of the Capitol, Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and the Qbama' family could have a small personal gathering with a few very close family and friends at their new home.... What a message that would send to an ailing counrty and the world!

    November 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Janet

    I'll donate after I pay last months credit card bill. It takes money even for a simple celebration and I want the lobbyists OUT! There should be a celebration. And, I'm so glad to see they are trying to do something about stopping the scalping of the tickets.

    If lobbyists really wanted to help they could donate annonymously so that there wouldn't be anyway to expect favor. Wouldn't that be the day!!! Giving something back to the country.

    November 18, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. huerfano

    Obama's minions apparently have more money than sense.

    November 18, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11