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. ian minneapolis, mn

    Money money, MONEY!

    November 18, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. Lyle

    Perhaps Mr. Obama should station his drones at airports and have them shake their tambourines for “change”.

    November 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. Tina

    They should let him use the money from the campaign...........But if he keeps lobbyists out and corp. money out then all the well to him............He will figure a way out to have GREAT INAUGURAL PARTIES..................He is smart and quite resourefull..................This will be the most watched and exciting a swearing in EVER>>>>>>>>>>>>

    November 18, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. just a thought

    if you want to donate, that's good, if not then don't, how simple is that.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Vicki5

    I'll be one of the millions sending in as much as I can afford. I want him to see that empowering the people is how he will suceed, not empowering the lobbyists.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. Mike in Columbus


    I would agree with you. I am a firm Obama supporter, but I want to see him live up to his words.

    Unfortunately, Campbell Brown's article said very little. She gave no names, numbers, or company affliations of the lobbyists. There may be a reason for the lack of detail. Details may undermine the power of the insinuation.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Janet

    One more thing: Obama's election has been of the people; by the people, and for for the people! Great reason to celebrate, and we should be happy to help pay for it.

    If Obama's presidency becomes what I believe it will, I willl never have spent so little to get so much!!!

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. ShawnT

    Firstly, EVERY president needs to raise money to pay for the transition. Bush raised a record $42 Million for his second inaugration (even though he was already in the White House). 90% of that money came from corporations.

    Secondly, Obama is making good on his promise to not take cash from lobbyists. So obviously, the only sensible alternative is to raise money from his supporters. I have no doubt he'll raise cash without much trouble.

    Lastly, I've had it with Campbell Brown's sexism. It so painfully obvious that she couldn't swallow either Hillary or Palin's loss to Obama. Her article today says Obama has many "former lobbyists and those affiliated with lobbyists", but makes no mention of any names or HOW exactly these people are 'affiliated' with lobbyists. Not to mention that an ex-lobbyist is no perfetly acceptable.

    November 18, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Stephen

    The fact that he is even thinking of raising money without counting on big firms is a positve start. I like this Guy.I will happilly donate.I think we need to encourage our officials to look to the public rather than the big corporation.

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Biff

    to keep out the idiot lobbyists... i will CONTINUE to donate...

    screw the rest of you stinking haters....

    prepare to stay marginalized for the next four years...

    November 18, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. johnny

    Happy to help, it's going to be a great party!

    November 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |

    The nice thing about Barack is that he doesn't ask for an arm and a leg. $5? or $10 is not too much to ask.


    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. JL

    I think since we are the new fund, we should demand dental and medical care without having to file bankruptcy, just like health insurance and drug company lobbiests lobby to let us die so they can make a profit.

    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. Ann

    It was with hope for this Presidency that triggered my first contribution over a year ago and I will gladly do my part including donating when I can if President-Elect Obama asks for funding.

    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Elaine

    Personally, I think inauguration tickets should be sent the the people that donated to his primary and general election faithfully. I know there's not 3000 million plus tickets to go around, but they should do a lottery just for donors. Doesn't seem fair that people who probably never contributed to his campaign get to go...I'm just sayin'

    November 18, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Dan

    Obama haters, give the man a chance to get into office, for heaven's sake. If you don't want to contribute, don't. The world will move on without you, no problem.

    Jumping on every little thing and throwing a hissy fit is not clever.

    November 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Sean, Atlanta,Ga.

    It sure is funny to see all these republicans cry and moan about Obama's fundraising abilities now that he has beaten them unmercifully at their own game. Remember, it wasn't too long ago when their cherrished dunce of a leader George Bush was running around raking in millions of dollars. All the republicans were saying then was how great a man he was. Now that the tide has turned now they want to criticize Barack for the success of his candidacy. Get a life you screw up republicans. It is because of you all that we are in this mess and now we are suppose to listen to you clowns. It is our time now, the true American Patriots of this country, the Democrats. We will rule this country for the next 50 years, and WE WILL include EVERY AMERICAN and not just the rich white men!

    November 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Dan

    Campbell Brown's report offers no evidence of any kind. Meaningless. Sorry, fans.

    November 18, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |

    Who is this Rick that every one is SO mad at?

    November 18, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. LJ in MD

    So shut TF up Romans!
    He may this or he could that?
    The point is he has not and he is not likely to!
    He has kept his word.
    For that I am sending in another $20.
    I like being a part of this.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Disposable income

    How bad could the economy be when millions of Americans continue to contribute to Obama?

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. adg

    I dont understand why people complain about this, the gov, takes our taxes, so if they ask us to contribute at least its your choice on whos getting it and why your giving it.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. Scott NYC Independent

    I don't know where you have been but he has his new security clearance; his birth certificate is on file and verified; he has not broken any campaign finance laws as I am millions of others gladly donated to his campaign and HE HAS WON already there is not "election". HE HAS WON.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. Marv...

    Obama can count on me. Rick, your parents must have been kissing cousins. Jeannie, you can't hide the fact you're a McCain/Palin supporter and never gave a dime to Obama. Did you guys forget that Obama supports were elitists? We learn to read and write when we were very young. Some of you are just learning to listen. Rick is a mid-evil village idiot, who received there information through word of mouth because they were illiterate. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’lier and Hannity are your leaders.

    November 18, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Christopher W. Mannoia

    Hey Mr. President-Elect:

    Where do we donate? I'll be happy to send something! I was able to donate online for your whole campaign, were do we send it now? Just let us know!

    Obama/Biden '08

    November 18, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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