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Obama fundraising moves to transition, inauguration phase

  • Story Highlights
  • Barack Obama's transition team has taken pains to keep lobbyists out of transition
  • Presidents usually turn to private money to help fund inauguration
  • Bush raised $42.8 million for second inauguration, mostly from corporate donors
  • Obama cannot use cash left over from general election for transition
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From Christine Romans
CNN
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(NEW YORK) 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.

Barack Obama broke fundraising records in the general election.

Barack Obama broke fundraising records in the general election.

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 Obama team will have to balance how to raise enough money without contradicting its tough talk 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. Video Watch what people will do for inauguration tickets »

President Bush raised a record $42.8 million for his second inauguration, and according to Public Citizen, more than 90 percent of donations to his second inauguration were from executives or corporations.

Bush limited corporate donations to $250,000 each in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interests.

Obama could decide to accept corporate donations for the inauguration, but 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 the Obama 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 stays within federal contribution limits.

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Obama could also hold on to the money and use it for a future federal campaign, such as 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.

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