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. whitelily Centre, AL.

    Welcome to the Obama show? It's not a show, it will be a cirrus.
    Let's see how many lobbyist contribute, to the transition in Jan.
    Obama fans YOU HAVE BEEN HAD.
    Obama is the same old politics, look how many old politicians will be in his in his cabinet, thats because he doesn't have a clue on how to start. All his fan's didn't think about expericence, they were thinking about making history
    WELL HISTORY IS ABOUT TO BE MADE. with the least of expericence
    ever elected.
    We will see what kind of change he will bring, SUCKERS.

    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. KLEE

    rick the regurgitator! (not to name many others) so many haters so little time!

    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. GDO


    November 18, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. Vickie

    I donated during the primaries and during the general election and would gladly donate again, however; I do agree with one blogger that said there should be a lottery for those contributors during Obama entire election process. I would love that opportunity just like so many!

    November 18, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. danielle (northern va)

    Not only will i continue to contribute 10 or 20 bucks a month to Obama but i will in the middle of DC with my children and 4 millon other people on 1/20/09 celebrating!!!!

    November 18, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Lynn in NM

    Good. Now he can share the wealth. Everyone can send him a letter requesting money. Won't have to be a loan, since he has so mcuh. After all, wealth sharing should be for all, not just everyone else.

    November 18, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  7. whitelily Centre, AL.

    Obama has plenty to hide, do you think he is going open up all the records of campaign contribution's, TOO MUCH GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES.

    November 18, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Jerry

    Sounds like Pelosi's promise to me, yet the Dems cover up wrongdoing right and left.

    November 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  9. carolflowery


    November 18, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. carolflowery

    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.
    guess what
    they dont check your birth certificate for clearance

    November 18, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. GDO


    November 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. paul (staunch Moderate)

    Brenda C November 18th, 2008 1:00 pm ET

    Excuse me! There has been nothing transparent about anything having to do with obama. His whole campaign was paid for by idiots and terrorists from other countries. That's why he won't release his list of contributors.

    Huh?? What???? Since when has he refused to release any list of contributors?

    Would these be the same terrorists from other countries that helped finance the 2 elections of Pres Bush?

    November 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Beth from Virginia

    Rick – pay attention. Obama presented his birth certificate AGES ago. Check Snopes. Google it. You can find plenty of proof (unless you won't be satisfied unless you run your fingers over the actual paper and feel the raised seal. How do you think he got to be a US Senator without a birth certificate?

    November 18, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Pete Collins

    There's no sense in returning any extra campaign money Obama has remaining. The fact that there may be some just highlights how excellent a steward of our money he's been. He should use it for his re-election campaign, which will have to start at the first of 2011 to match this last election.
    Obama should limit individual contributors to about $25,000 for each of the inauguration and the transition, but not accept corporate donations.
    He did a fine job of managing his campaign money. As a donor, I appreciate that. Since he's not allowed to use that, then we can certainly come up with another $25 million or so to help with the transition and inauguration combined. That's really not a whole lot of money - in the big picture. It will be worth it to keep the corporations out of the game. I'll cough up some of my own money today on his website. A little goes a long way, it seems.

    November 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Robert

    Any chance I could get a ticket if I donate a few bucks?

    November 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. greenfun

    That's funny –because he took in unprecedented amounts of money from corporate and wall street interests. Why the charade now?

    November 18, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. rena

    He got my money; amazing how know one complained when the repugs threw their party. You democratic haters get over yourselves your not the only ones that has a brain; Obama showed you better than he could tell you. I will support him 100% any place any time. Ya'll complaining about how hard times are just remember it was your party and President that broke the freaking country. Why don't you call your beloved President that you put in office and whin to him?

    November 18, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. GDO

    I can say one thing about Republicans, they are loyal. They stood behind G. Bush for 8 years. This President has ruined EVERyTHING FOR THE USA, and they still don't understand.. That's sad.

    November 18, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. RLE

    Jeannie 12:17 pm est- stop perpetrating, you know you did not give a dime to the Obama campaign it shows in your attitude. For all of the others who have not donated, do not wish to donate, then don't... but don't try to tell us (Obama supporters) what we can or can't do with our money.
    I'll donate some more

    November 18, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. JAS

    You know what? Pat F, whatever they "figure out", will be a helluva lot
    better than what was "figured out the past 8 years, w/yo people in office.

    November 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. P

    Reality: You are a joke with your mindless comments....expect taxation? In case you haven't heard, that's how the government operates. We pay taxes, and we get services in return, very simple. If you don't want to pay taxes, then stay off the roads and bridges that our taxes pay for, and don't send your kids to public school that our taxes pay for.

    November 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    He's suppose to be about change. Then why not forego spending a fortune on a huge party when the country is suffering and people are losing their jobs and homes. I for one don't wish to see a huge party with $1000 dollar dresses and suits and food that most American's can't afford.

    November 18, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Scott NYC Independent

    Okay time to get out the check book again – transition team make this just as eventful as the democratic acceptance speech.

    November 18, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. JAS

    Pat F, "Translate" this, YES WE DID.

    November 18, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |

    All I can say is , if 9 million dollars is not enough, then give it to my employer. He is about to lay off 10 employee's. We are all like family. He can't decide who to lay off. Yesterday he went out to the parking lot, and when he came back he layed off 10, the 10 cars that had OBAMA stickers on them. Give the money to my employer, and save some jobs, that would be a good first impression.

    November 18, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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