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. AD

    Brenda C.-You are an idiot. The things you spout are not true.

    November 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Laura, Boston November 18th, 2008 11:46 am ET

    With the country in such a economic mess, why isn't over 9 million dollars enough to stand on a podium and take the oath of office?

    Why can't history be made by having a transition and inauguration that is quiet and simple.

    Just my opinion.
    He's expecting as much as 4 million people. They will need to hire a lot of security.

    November 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Amber

    Rick, Rick, Rick:

    There's a reason why anonymous and cowardly whisper campaign emails exist. They are for people like you: venal, disgusting, klaxon bell-ringing racists who just can't handle the fact that a BLACK MAN is PRESIDENT.

    You and the rest of the "low information voters" can go suckle on the tailpipe of your big ol' ignorance tank, put on your tinfoil hat, and ride out the next four years on Oxycontin with your hero Rushie-boy for all I care.

    The rest of us who live in the real world have real business to attend to.

    November 18, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Carlo, Raleigh NC

    Brenda 1pm,

    Oh comeon now you don't really believe that do you? The democratic party sweep isn't the end of the world, the republicans now have a unique oppertunity to reorganize the party and realign it with america's values from which they have strayed. Don't worry, eventually we'll republicans will get over this, there's no need to eat up conspiricy theory.

    November 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. gloria


    November 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Judyann Watson

    Ask Oprah for the money.

    November 18, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. CT Indy

    Why exactly is $9.4 MILLLION dollars not enough? I would like to know that explanation.

    November 18, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Carl

    Brenda C how ignorant do you have to be to say something as stupid as that?? You know thats not true just like the rest of the idiots and sore losers supporting the republicans

    November 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Mike

    Well....everyone responded to my comments yesterday...yet still no one could tell me WHO has verified Obama's birth certificate....they all act like they have personally checked it out....but no they just believe what the media tells them.

    Hmmmm....remember Dan Rather and his forged documents.

    But, I never did get an intelligent response from any Obamabots....just the meaningless drool they have been spitting for the past 18 months and all their name calling. So I will finally stoop to their level....if you haven't seen through this Obama facade of "change" in just the last two weeks...then you are an idiot...plain and simple.

    And when one of you brilliant beings can produce me a vault birth certificate confirming he was born on American soil...then he will be my president. Until then he is not consitutionally eligible and I won't accept it.

    But unlike all of you whom four years ago were saying you were moving to Canada (unfortunately you are apparently still here) I am staying right here...why....because I was here first.

    November 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Charm

    LOL a lot of you anti-Obama posters are hilarious and probably in dire need of meds. A lot of people who voted for Obama chose to do so [b]AFTER[/b] McCain picked that nitwit Palin as his running mate. Get over it. McCain lost the election fair and square.

    November 18, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Rick


    I think you have me confused with your candidate......DRUG ADDICTION

    November 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  12. James From Chicago

    I voted for Obama, and I am upset because he kept saying he was
    going to get rid of the lobbyest , now he is puttingthem on his advisory

    November 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Ike

    @Rick, you are questioning your president to be birth place. Get a life, he won the election and doing everything right but people like you see nothing good in other humans who have different ideas and philosopies. I can understand the differences but I have difficulty understanding the hate and dislike for a guy how have inspired millions of American and have changed American image abroad. This is the time for every one of us to join together and rebuild our nation. If you can donate do so, if you can't that fine too. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS NO MORE REAL AND FAKE AMERICANS. She is back in ALASKA and gone with her divisive words.

    November 18, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. Matt: honestly

    Rick you silly little man. You obviously haven't watched new news. This information was released a long time ago.

    November 18, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. vanessa the stay-at home mom

    It is so sad to see so many hateful people in this world. OBAMA has won a;ready so get over it! I donated to him just like millions of other people did. Atleast he does not use the money to pay for his family to travel like the idiot from alaska ! Obama is our next president so deal with it HATERS or should I say IDIOTS!

    November 18, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. karen raleigh

    Please no Clintons in the cabinet

    November 18, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Mike

    Attention All Obamabots....

    Breaking Poll......

    Please go to the Zogby Website and see how misinformed you are.....

    November 18, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. what now

    Why inauguration has to cost that much? Can we do more simply?
    can someone tell me why it is so expensive?

    November 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. America demands answers

    To Rogerd and the rest who doesnt know anything. This isand will always be United States of America. Things has to be done right. The whole World will be looking at us and the ceremony. We cant look foolish or stupid just because its an Obama Presidency. We have to do it right. You only get one chance in a lifetime to have your first ceremony as the president of the GREAT Country. WE ARE GREAT AND WILL REMAIN GREAT!!.
    Send money in and let the people do this ceremony for the first time and not lobbyst.

    November 18, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Robert in raleigh

    Pat F , You are an idiot , ,,, give him $5

    November 18, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. No more Bailouts

    Shouldn't transition be part of the jobs of the current and incoming administrations employees? When I have to train a new hire I don't get to charge additional fees? I can see money may be needed for the staging, microphones, production, etc. of the actual inaugeration ceremony and money for the following ball. But I don't see why nearly $10 MILLION isn't enough? If they want top entertainment, ask one of the celebraties that endorsed to donate their time. Cut back on some of the fancier hors d'oevres. We are in a recession. Citi just cut over 50,000 jobs. We all need to live and work within our budgets.

    November 18, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. joe

    Most Americans now support our new President Elect and have put politics aside in these times of crises. I was ashamed as a Christian when I saw the cnn report with the anti Obama sign in front of the Spirit One Christian Center in Wichita Kansas. For this kind of racist, false testimony, intolerant hatred to be posted in front of a so called Christian Church. Shows just how far America still needs to go in spite of this historical election. No wonder church attendance is falling in America. With churches like these that repel any decent person from hearing the news of our Lord and Savior.

    November 18, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  23. Mike

    ummmm he has broken at least one campaign finance law....remember HE TOOK MONEY FROM HIS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT AUNT WHO IS LIVING ON PUBLIC WELFARE IN BOSTON!..Well that is THE ONE we found out about if you dug through the media far enough.

    November 18, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Bill-PA

    President-elect Obama, you can count on me. Where do I send my donation?

    November 18, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Jaye

    I'll donate!

    November 18, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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