Tags: obama | fundraising

Big Money Bought Obama the White House

Tuesday, 09 Dec 2008 06:20 PM

Contrary to claims by the Obama campaign, small donors were not the key to Obama’s dramatic fundraising success, according to the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute and a Newsmax analysis of the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission late last week.

Obama shattered all records by raising more than $740 million from individuals during the campaign, more than George W. Bush and John Kerry combined in the 2004 presidential election.

[Editor's Note: See "Funny Money: How Barack Obama Bought the White House for $668 Million."]

With his coffers overflowing, Obama was able to outspend the McCain-Palin ticket by a margin of four to one in the final stretch of the campaign in key battleground states.

Obama campaign spokesmen claimed they had attracted 3.95 million individual donors, including more than 500,000 who gave for the first time during the final weeks of the campaign.

But there is no way of verifying if the numbers provided by the Obama campaign are correct since they have not been audited, despite a formal complaint filed by the Republican National Committee in October that an audit be performed.

Without an audit, the Obama claims have to be taken on faith.

The RNC complaint cited reports by Newsmax and other news organizations that pointed out a broad range of prima facie violations of campaign finance laws, including taking money from non-U.S. citizens, and from non-existent persons.

A Newsmax analysis of the latest Obama campaign finance report found that small donors, whose names were not disclosed by the Obama campaign because they gave less than $200 total, accounted for 21.84 percent of Obama’s total fundraising extravaganza.

The Campaign Finance Institute said that put Obama’s small donor base on a par with the McCain-Palin ticket and with previous presidential contenders, including George W. Bush.

“They myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama’s finances,” said Michael J. Malbin, the institute’s executive director in a statement. “The reality of Obama’s fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth.”

While the statistics compiled by the Federal Election Campaign showed that nearly half of Obama’s money came in chunks of $200 or less, in reality half of that amount came from repeat donors, contributors who were convinced by a variety of fundraising appeals to give again and again.

“About 93,000 of these repeaters gave in cumulative amounts of no more than $400 for the full primary season,” the Campaign Finance Institute found. “Another 106,000 repeaters ended up between $401 and $999.”

Roughly 13,000 of the repeat donors “crossed the $1,000 threshold in their cumulative contributions.,” CFI found, minimizing their ability to influence the campaign when compared to the super-donors who got to know the candidate at closed-door fundraising events.

Federal Election laws do not require campaigns to disclose the names of donors who have given under $200. Many donors began by giving small amounts, but once their aggregate contribution exceeds $200, campaigns are required to report their name, profession, employer and address to the FEC.

In findings that mirrored earlier reports by Newsmax before the election, the Campaign Finance Institute found that “about 403,000 different people had given enough money (more than $200) by Aug. 31 to have their names disclosed. This increased to about 580,000 by Oct. 15.”

Obama’s latest finance report includes information on more than 620,000 different donors, a Newmax analysis found. Some of them gave as many as nine hundred times.

These named donors gave a total of $495 million, out of the $656.6 million the campaign raised from named individuals. The 3.3 million anonymous “small” donors the Obama campaign claimed to have attracted gave $161.7 million, or 21.84 percent of the total, Newsmax found.

Also shattering the myth of the “small donor” base was the $83.5 million the Democrat National Committee kicked in to Obama’s campaign – half the amount the alleged “small” donors gave.

Big donors, who gave in chunks of $1,000 or more, coughed up close to $184 million, according to a tally by the FEC. That was far more, and from far fewer people, than the amount raised from the alleged 3 million plus small donors.

Obama cultivated these large donors, and encouraged those with means to become super donors.

These individuals went way beyond the campaign finance limits and gave $40 million that was transferred to the Obama Victory Fund, a separate committee run jointly by the Obama campaign and by the DNC.

Under a loophole in the FEC regulations, super-donors can give up to $28,500 to a joint fundraising committee, in addition to $4600 directly to the Obama campaign.

[Editor's Note: See "Funny Money: How Barack Obama Bought the White House for $668 Million."]

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