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. wait a minute

    Why don't we have a budget for inauguration? It's expected once every four years.

    November 18, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. whitelily Centre, AL.

    Let's not kid ourselves, who in their right mind thinks Obama raised all that money by 5 and 10 dollar donations. The election was bought and the media went right along with it. If 9 million dollars is not enough just don't have one, that would solve everything.

    November 18, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Jayco

    It is so sad to see so many angry people out there that talk like they've listened to the hateful talk of Fox, Limbaugh, and the Repubs only. I'd be willing to bet they haven't even really paid attention and listened and learned anything about Obama. Most of them say they try not to listen. How stupid is that!! The really odd part of all this is that much of what they afraid of from Obama (socialism 'bailout'), deficits, etc.) has actually come from the last 8 years of the present administration! Anything now willl be an improvement!

    Start paying attention, with an open mind. Give him a chance. Whether or not you wanted him for President, he will be the President for ALL of us. So open your mind, support his efforts, and give him a chance before you judge him.

    November 18, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. GS

    Bitter much? You people who keep harping on Obama supporters being drones and minions are too funny. We are laughing at you!!!

    If anything, you should be supportive of his win. A win for Obama means a win for education. And a lot of you really need help in this area. Your school systems seriously failed you! Your rants are untelligible.

    November 18, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. armywife

    I'll send a quarter...toss it right to him! Change you can believe in!

    November 18, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. facts are facts

    The elections over and Obama won! The Obama haters would be well advised to save their lies and stupidity until after he takes office as bashing him now simply puts you on the same level as Hannity and Rush. That level of course is far below average.

    November 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. Jan

    Does the thirst of this man for money never end?

    November 18, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. jm for sc

    Pat F, we have done well this far without having President-Elect-Obama commit his administration to lobbyists and I think we can continue on.

    Obama supporters, let's start donating. If we all give $5.00 or $10.00 each, he will have enough money.

    November 18, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Dee

    How ironic! A lavish coronation in the midst of an historic financial crisis.

    November 18, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Gaylon Barrow

    Once a thief always a thief. OBAMA is deceitful, proven liar, an immoral person and a terrorist supporter. Wake up people. Throw this man out of office before he starts the begins of the end of an America that DUYA started to destroy.

    November 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. JAN

    PatF...FYI nobody is conning or forcing you to contribute!!!!!!
    BTW...Obama I got your back...another $300.00 coming your way!

    November 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. susan

    As a primary and GE maxed-out supporter, I was invited to contribute to the Transition Team. I declined.
    When I voted for him, I expected Obama would keep his word and
    bring 'change' to Washington by establishing the highest moral and ethical standards and appointing the most competent individuals.
    It is only two weeks since the election and it is obvious that we have the third Clinton term starting.
    This is not what I voted for.

    November 18, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Milhouse van Houten

    Wow,almost ten million and it's still not enough?Must be some shin-dig planned.

    November 18, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. Jan

    No objection to letting the idiots who want to freeze their behinds off to see their hero one more time pay for their ticket.

    November 18, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. hello

    I think Hillary should stay in senate and run against Obama in 2012.
    Enough of this vetting process of most successful democratic president.

    November 18, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. California Gold

    It's difficult to view the CNN video about an 82 year old woman on a fixed income who was sold a $500,000 mortgage to refi her home a couple of years ago and now the lender foreclosed. An 82 year old widow–homeless. Hard to watch that and fathom millions of dollars for inauguration. I'm inclined to donate to my community to help my neighbors. I voted for Obama and don't begrudge the inauguration expenses, but I can't shake the CNN video of this old woman who was swindled by a predatory lender. Poor woman. 82 and swindled.

    November 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Maggie in NYS

    For everyone "condemning" Obama for this, just remember that our most recent presidential inauguration cost $42 million, mostly donated by CORPORATIONS. Want to guess which ones?

    November 18, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Gene

    Amber – Fact check. Money from BIG OIL

    Obama – 23.9M
    McCain – 13.2M

    Now who is less pure on the BIG OIL issue?

    November 18, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |

    Brenda–get a life. you're the only idiot obama supporters know

    November 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. kelly WI

    I thought every one was whinging about the economy. They still have money to throw away on Obamas party?
    He bashes lobbyists but sure takes their money. Now the UAW are looking for their payback with another 25 Billion bailout.
    Obama has been snookered by the Clintons and their gang. They will have the power. One way or the other. It's so funny. Bill is lining his pockets, therefore hers, with foreign money, and obama makes her Sec. State. Oh boy. Stay tuned for the fun.

    November 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Why not/ He's preparing for the 2012 election eraly – just like Bush did with the help of T. Boone Pickens who organized a fundraiser for 2004 before Bush even got inaugurated in 2001!

    Democrats learned plenty from the Bush Cabal!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. KLEE

    do i detect some jealousy on this page??? yep. I think I do!

    November 18, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. GDO


    November 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Charles L. Shaw, Liverpool, NY

    You reep what you sow. This is a country for the rich by the rich and governemnt oh the rich. It was fannie mae and freddie mac money that got both Obama and McCain to be offered as the only choices and we choose, none of these folks know anything about balanced budgets, and living within their means. Only the American Citizen is held to those standards and principles.
    When exactly did the rights of Corporations, special interests group and Lobbyists, become more important that the American Citizen?

    November 18, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. GDO


    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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