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. Lizz

    So much money was spent in the election transitions and inauguration.
    This amount is more than the salary the President gets in his 4 years.

    Perhaps the process to elect is as important so that the right man is elected to run a country.

    November 18, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Kel in Auburn, AL

    I donated twice to his Presidential Campaign, and I'll be willing to donate to his Transition / Inauguration Campaign as well!

    November 18, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. ben

    Dear Mr. president elect Barrak Obama,
    Why dont you state publicly you do not want this silly waste of our money. You want a simple no nonsense take over, and a wish for a good life for the exiting president.

    November 18, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. SS, Washington

    We deserve a great party after all the work that we have done. Where do I and all my people donate our $5 to $50 dollar. If IGA can have a party why not us. Go Dems. Let's get busy. For those of you who are tapped that okay. We got your back. United American will Stand.

    November 18, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. cubscoutmom

    Not sure who Rick is..but he sounds like an idiot...and needs to get a life...but he does have his right to his opinions...which suck

    As for Obama fund raising..Let him do what he must..he is very smart...he doesnt want to owe the Lobbyists and Coporations anything...Kudos for him! He has my donation on the way...would have been nice to actually get a chance to get a ticket to the swearing in...

    God Bless Obama/Biden..and God Bless Amercia!

    November 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Lizz

    Prez Obama is a good fundraiser. Hopefully, he is also a good fund-manager. This is a good indication that he is able to manage the current complicated financial crisis.

    Hopefully, there will be a surplus by the end of his first term.

    November 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. susie

    Why is Obama meeting with McCain? Obama kept saying McCain is Bush III.

    November 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Changing Times

    I am a huge Obama supporter but I would tend to agree with a lot of the individuals who have left similiar comments on this subject. One of President-Elect's comments and one of the things that I agreed with 100% is that it is time for ALL of us to make sacrafices. I don't believe that having a huge party will send a good message. That is not different than AIG asking for the bailout and then spending in excess of 400,000 on "meetings" which included Spa's, etc. I do believe that this is a historic event and I wouldn't want anything to take away from how special this is but I do believe that praticality needs to over rule in this situation and taken into account should be the mess the economy is and "making sacrafices and changing how we do things. This would be a great start to sending a new message about tightening everyone's belt. Not just the "because I said so" and then not do it yourself. Again, I say that with the utmost respect for President-Elect Obama.

    November 18, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. ron I guess you can't fix stupid. Dude stick to the topics on the blogs. When you see a heading that reads "Obama born in another Country oh my god what have we done" Then you can fill your boots and write as many dumb questions as you want. Now go put away your crayons and go back to watching cartoons.

    November 18, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Alex Winter

    Sean from Atlanta: you are a mean spirited idiot. Obama doesn't need haters like you on his side.

    November 18, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Rick November 18th, 2008 11:54 am ET

    wow you socialist really know how to hurt a guy. What a screwed up four years this will be. I've seen nothing that convinces me of his birthplace only more hiding. By the way crazy woman are you one of the ones that will stay home and hope this man is going to spread the wealth to you.
    So much hate. Tisk tisk....

    November 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. LyonsPhilly

    Obama you can have whatever you like.....Do it up. Historical appointment.....

    November 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Kpawlak

    I think Obama should share some of that money. Especially the money that came from overseas.

    November 18, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Amber

    I'd be happy to send more money if it means LOCKING THE BIG OIL GOONS OUT!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. ProgressiveChange

    Rick give it up Obama won this election with people power not lobbist power.

    Don't be a sore loser get over it and calling Obama Socialist.

    After 8 years of Bush a little bit of Socialism might do us some good even through Obama is not a Socialist Democrat.

    I do believe in free healthcare and dental care for every American who needs it .

    This inauguration is historic regardless of the Economy times we are living in .

    I hope to get tickets and If I do not thats ok but it would be great to get tickets .

    Obama is your New President get used to it or leave America .

    November 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. LyonsPhilly

    @Brenda C....Calm down. It's going to be ok......

    November 18, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. 3strikes

    repubs are worried about u.s. recession, democrats wanna celebrate right into another depression, go figure

    November 18, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. Simmy

    I will continue to suport President Obama if he needs me to. It's worth it to see his administration succeed, and send the Fox malcontents, sore losers, bashers, no-life aliens back to Hannity and his other First Church of the Republicans members!

    Someone please tell Campbell Brown to SHUT UP about President Obama and ex-lobbyists! She just barely got a show, and could be gone anyday. She should try to find news worth reporting, and stop trying to get ratings! I predict CNN will get weary of her and make her news soon!

    November 18, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. Jen, Cali

    Just another Obama addiction - MONEY !!!!!!!! But THIS one he won't try to break - after all, it bought him the presidency !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. Charm

    I'm all for keeping corporate money out of the inaguration. Forgo Starbucks for a week and contribute to Obama's inaguration fund....sounds like a good plan to me.

    November 18, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. Lisa in Illinois

    To Rick and "Welcome to the Obama show" – I doubt that anything can be said to change your minds but I'm gonig to try. Despite the fact that it has been shown he was born in Hawaii, it doesn't really matter where he was born. His mother was an American citizen and therefore wherever he was born – SO IS HE! Like McCain born in Panama where his family lived, my daughter was born in Germany when I was stationed there in the Army and she is an American citizen.

    I can understand you may not like Obama, may disagree with his stand on issues and voted against him. But at least let him officially do something you disagree with! I disliked Bush from day 1 but didn't get outspoken about him until he invaded Iraq. Give him a day in office (63 days and counting!) to do something wrong okay?

    November 18, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  22. Jacob

    I can't believe this......I am so shaken by this article. It irritates that they have this money but we are in this financial freenzy. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. Ken

    Why is there such a need to spend so much money when many of the American people cannot even put food on their table.?

    It is time to change how all of this celebration is handled. There has already enough money spent on this change to replace just a President! It is only a job, regardless of how high of a position. It reminds me of the CEO's of large corporations getting large bonuses while the workers get nothing!

    It seems a pity that so much money has been spent for all of this crap just to replace a worker. The money could have been spent better if it had been spent on those that don't even have a roof over their head or food in their stomach.

    November 18, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  24. Tim

    Brenda C Obama will be your President too. Unless you choice to give your citizenship.

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. Stacy from Loudoun County VA

    Inaugurations are unique American events that occur to celebrate something that should be cherished: The peaceful transfer of power. The calls to "cancel" the event are simply bizarre in my opinion. In many places in the world, this occurs through blood, not by handshakes. This event should be celebrated, never mourned or scaled back. This is the lifeblood of American Democracy folks.

    November 18, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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