Public financing of campaigns.
June 23, 2008 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Last week Obama eschewed the public financing system for the general election. It seems that many of the articles I am reading are saying that he is the "first major party candidate to reject public financing and its attendant spending limits." Do they mean in this election, or ever? If they mean "first-ever" (since public financing started) and public financing means a candidate can't raise private funds, then why is there always so much talk of candidates hosting various fund-raising events like $x,000-a-plate dinners? Are the publicly financed campaigns having their PACs raise money or what?
posted by pithy comment to Law & Government (10 answers total)
posted by R. Mutt at 6:45 AM on June 23, 2008

I dont' understand it either, because this seems to say that plenty of people have done it before.

(It's also disappointing because Obama could have framed his decision to reverse himself better. And because it IS a reversal.)
posted by gjc at 7:51 AM on June 23, 2008

Keep reading: "No major party has turned down government funds for the general election since the program was launched in 1976, until Senator Barack Obama did so in 2008." The other guys likely turned it down for the primaries.
posted by Monday at 7:59 AM on June 23, 2008

Presidential campaign public financing has two pools: primary election and general election. I believe Obama will be the first to forgo public financing for the general election, if I'm reading everything correctly.

For some reason, though, I have a vague memory that Bush opted out of general election public financing ... but my memory may be faulty, since I can't find a reference to that anywhere.
posted by scottso17 at 7:59 AM on June 23, 2008

I've read the wiki, and the rest of the article.

I too had the sense that most campaigns dismissed the public financing in the past. Or is it that they get $80 million and can raise some additional money along side that?
posted by pithy comment at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2008

I thought there was something about the federal money being matching funds -- meaning they match whatever you raise on your own, up to a certain figure.
posted by spilon at 8:43 AM on June 23, 2008

Nope, Bush took the $80M in 2004. During his virtually unopposed run-up to the convention, he could raise and spend as much as he wanted. That accomplishes pretty much the same goal.

Also, even though you can only give $2300 to a candidate, you can give almost $30k to the national party, which then spends the money to help the candidate. McCain right now has agreements with the RNC to split the costs of ads which are for both of them. The loopholes to launder money through parties and 'independent' groups are pretty easy to find.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:48 AM on June 23, 2008

Presidential campaign public financing has two pools: primary election and general election.


Interestingly, it can be argued that McCain lost the moral high ground on this by his actions in relation to the primary election money. If I understand it correctly, he agreed to take federal money, then used the promise of that money to secure private loans from a bank, then backed out of the federal money. Washington Post: McCain Got Loan by Pledging to Seek Federal Funds
posted by R. Mutt at 8:52 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Actually this Roll Call article indicates that the joint accounts allow people to donate up to $70k.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:56 AM on June 23, 2008

Ah, this explains how the $70k is broken down. $2300 to the campaign itself, $28.5k to the national party, and the rest to the state GOP committees in battleground states. This is before giving to 527s.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:01 AM on June 23, 2008

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