Entries in Funds (8)


Romney Campaign Raised $12.6 Million in Primary Funds in March

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- The Romney campaign said on Friday that it raised nearly $12.6 million in primary funds in March, bringing the total primary contributions to his campaign over the past 12 months to $87 million.

According to the campaign, it has no debt and has $10.3 million in cash on hand, an uptick from the $7.3 million it had at the end of February.  Additionally, Romney has given no money from his own personal fortune to his campaign.

“Mitt Romney’s continued strong fundraising shows that voters across the country are tired of the failures from President Obama,” said Romney’s National Finance Chair Spencer Zwick in a statement.  “We will continue the hard work to raise the necessary funds to defeat President Obama and change the direction of the country.”

Small donations continued to rise for the Romney campaign, with 64 percent of all donations for amounts of $250 or less.

While the Romney campaign focused entirely on primary funds in March, when the candidate’s chief GOP rival Sen. Rick Santorum was still in the race, the focus has since shifted to general election fundraising.  The Romney campaign has a joint fundraising account with the Republican National Committee that has already held several high-dollar fundraisers across the country, with another one slated for Friday evening in Arizona.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Votes to Axe $200 Million for Presidential Campaigns

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amid a presidential campaign cycle in which candidates are expected to raise more than $1 billion, the House of Representatives voted Thursday to end the comparatively meager taxpayer funding for presidential campaigns.

The Republican-sponsored bill, which passed 235-190 strictly down party lines, transfers the $200 million currently sitting in the presidential fund back to the Treasury to help bring down the deficit. The bill also eliminated the Election Assistance Commission, which was established after the 2000 election to promote proper election administration, a move that would save about $16.3 million annually.

Every voting Democrat voted against the bill. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., was the only voting Republican to oppose the bill. It is highly unlikely that the Democrat-controlled Senate will take up the measure.

For the past 35 years, every major party nominee -- with the exception of Barack Obama -- has funded his or her general election campaign using the public money, with the caveat that they do not raise any private funds after accepting the millions in tax dollars.

But as campaign spending skyrockets, the roughly $90 million that candidates could receive from taxpayers in 2012 would be merely a “drop in the bucket,” said Ray La Raja, an associate political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“The [public funds] are only relevant if you don’t want to win the presidency,” La Raja said. “It’s just not enough money.”

For example, in the 2008 general election, GOP nominee John McCain took the $84 million in public funds. Obama, who opted out of the taxpayer money, went on to raise about $350 million for the general election.

“When Obama said, ‘Forget it, I’m not taking the public funds,’ all bets were off,” La Raja said. “It was a disaster for McCain. He was so constrained because he only had $85 million to work with.”

This is exactly why neither Obama nor the eventual Republican nominee is expected to take the public money this election cycle.

“If you don’t take the public money, it’s just game on,” said Michael Toner, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “You can raise as much as you like and spend as much as you want. All these rules kick in if you take public money.”

But Democrats argue that the public money helps decrease the influence of special interests and are unlikely to bring up the bill in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“The public is kind of confounded on this,” La Raja said. “They are not sure how to solve the problem. They don’t want to give candidates public money but they don’t want to have politicians take donations from private interests.”

None of the Republican candidates have opted for public primary matching funds, which match private donations with as much as $250 of public money per individual.

If they accept the funds, the amount they can spend in the primary is capped at $44.2 million. To put that in perspective, Obama spent about 10 times that much to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.

Obama did not accept taxpayer funds in the primary election or the general election, making him the first candidate to win the White House without public money since the taxpayer funding program was established in 1976.

It was created in response to the Watergate scandal as a way to limit corruption or the appearance of corruption in presidential elections.

The 2012 election cycle is expected to be the most expensive in American history. The Obama campaign has said it aims to raise at least $1 billion, up from the nearly $800 million it raised in 2008.

But while $1 billion may sound like a lot for TV ads and phone banks, it pales compared to the advertising dollars spent to promote products in the private sector.

“We spend $1 billion to advertise toothpaste,” La Raja said. “What’s a billion to advertise for the most important election in this country, if not the world?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


John Edwards Campaign Owes US Government $2.3 Million

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- John Edwards’ fall from grace took a financial hit Thursday when the Federal Election Commission ruled his 2008 presidential campaign owes the federal government $2.3 million.

The FEC says an audit shows the John Edwards for President Committee needs to pay back $2.1 million in government matching funds it wasn’t entitled to receive.

The commission said the remainder of the money owed comes from so-called “stale-dated checks.”   Those are checks the campaign sent back to donors that were never cashed.  The FEC says those checks were refunds to contributors who had made donations early in the campaign that were intended strictly for general election use, not primaries.

According to FEC regulations, any money not recollected by the original donor must be forwarded to the government.

After the FEC votes to approve a final audit report, the Edwards campaign will have 90 days to pay up or 60 days to request a review.  Audits are required as part of the government’s matching funds program and, according to the Los Angeles Times, it’s not uncommon for campaigns to pay back a portion of money received in error because of accounting mistakes.

Last month, in an unrelated matter, Edwards was indicted on six felony charges for allegedly using some $900,000 in campaign contributions from two supporters to keep his then-pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, out of the public eye during his 2008 run for the White House.  A criminal trial is set to get underway in October.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney Raises More than All His GOP Contenders Combined

James Devaney/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney announced Wednesday that his campaign raised $18.25 million during the second fundraising quarter, exceeding the amount earned by all of his Republican counterparts combined.

The campaign also said all the money raised is comprised of primary contributions only and no general election funds. Romney contributed none of his personal fortune to his campaign, according to an aide.

Cash on hand for the campaign totals at $12.6 million, and campaign sources report they have spent 31 percent of what they've earned.

Contributions came in from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In an e-mail statement, Romney for President National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick said, "Voters are responding to Mitt Romney's message that President Obama's policies have failed and that we need new leadership in Washington.  Our fundraising for the second quarter represents the strong support Mitt Romney has across the country."

The campaign had tempered expectations of their fundraising ability in the days leading up to the quarter's close, with one senior adviser telling ABC News that the “poor economy isn’t just a talking point for [the campaign], it’s taking a toll on our donors.”

Romney raised more than $10 million during a "National Call Day" in Las Vegas in May and had attended as many as 30 fundraisers over the past few weeks.  On Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor heads to the U.K. to attend a fundraiser with voters living across the pond.

Even so, Romney out-earned every one of his Republican rivals who have reported their fundraising numbers to date: Tim Pawlenty reported raising $4.2 million this quarter, Newt Gingrich earned $2 million, Herman Cain saw nearly $2.5 million and Ron Paul raised $4.5 million.

Michele Bachmann and President Barack Obama have not yet divulged their fundraising numbers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Law on Extra Public Election Funds Deemed Unconstitutional

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Arizona law providing additional funds to political candidates who receive public rather than private contributions is unconstitutional.

By a five-to-four vote, the high court said Arizona's attempt at leveling the playing field impinged free speech rights.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, "The state grants funds to publicly financed candidates as a direct result of the speech of privately financed candidates and their" backers.

In essence, the decision of the five conservative judges does not end publicly funded campaigns but it does prevent states from trying to match contributions other candidates receive from wealthy private donors.

In the minority opinion of the court's liberal wing, Justice Elena Kagan said, "The majority's denigration of this interest...wrongly prevents Arizona from protecting the strength and integrity of its democracy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Despite Calls to Cut Spending, States Rely Heavily on Federal Funds

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As debates over the budget and the deficit escalate and the small-government, cost-cutting Tea Party gains more clout in Washington, federal programs are coming under fire.

But at the same time, federal dollars increasingly are in demand, according to an ABC News analysis.

For all the rhetoric against federal spending and encroachment on states' autonomy, governors rely heavily on federal funds, especially given the slow economy.  Not one governor turned away all the federal stimulus money their states received and, despite opposition to the Democrats' health care plan, governors continue to take in the money that law allocated.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., founder of the Senate Tea Party caucus, has advocated for the abolishing of the Department of Education.  But doing so could have heavy consequences on the Bluegrass State.  Federal funds accounted for about 20 percent of public school funding in fiscal year 2010, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.  Cutting the department could take away more than $1 billion from Kentucky's schools.

Even in other areas, Kentucky is heavily dependent on federal funds, even though Paul and the state's other outspoken Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have railed against government spending.  Per capita federal spending amounts to more than $11,500 in fiscal year 2009, making Kentucky the 12th-ranked state for dependence upon federal funds, according to the Census bureau.

Other conservative states whose leaders have assailed federal money also rely heavily on dollars from D.C.

Today, through about 1,200 grant programs, the federal government allocates about $600 billion annually to states, representing close to one-third of the typical state's budget, including Republican-leaning ones like Texas and Tea Party-heavy states like Arizona and Oklahoma.

At the same time, the proportion of money that states give back to the federal government in the form of taxes relative to what they get in return has shrunk. Virtually all states -- whether red or blue -- get more than $1 per capita back for every tax dollar paid to Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shadowy Groups Have Poured Nearly $227 Million Into 2010 Elections

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Oil and gas industry services and investors have contributed $415,000 from their company coffers to fund a group blasting Democratic Senate candidates in four states with attack ads.

A North Carolina pharmaceutical executive has spent $3.3 million of his personal wealth to spearhead another group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailings to influence Senate races in nine states.

Labor unions and Las Vegas resorts are largely funding a group that has focused on attacking Republican challengers to Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's seat.

The three groups -- First Amendment Alliance, and Patriot Majority -- are among more than 230 independent groups that have poured $227 million into the 2010 elections so far, according to federal election data available through Sunlight Foundation's Reporting Group, an organization that tracks campaign spending.  Of the total that can be tracked, some $103 million has been spent to support Republican or oppose Democrats, while $67 million has gone toward supporting Democrats or opposing Republicans.

Campaign finance watchdog groups say the flood of money reflects an altered election spending landscape following a series of Supreme Court decisions that have cleared the way for independent groups to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, and individuals to directly fund ads, mailings and other messaging expressly supporting or opposing federal candidates in the final days running up to an election. The interests backing the groups are not always apparent to voters, and often the donors remain secret.

"We're talking about a new kind of spending," said Taylor Lincoln of Public Citizen, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that follows campaign spending. "There are probably a lot of corporate spenders out there that, for fear for their reputation and a sense of what was right and the law of the land, didn't want to play that game. Now they don't have to fear any kind of legal retribution. That's a big deal."

The First Amendment Alliance, funded largely by oil and gas interests, is one of the groups ramping up fundraising and spending this election cycle.  In 2008, the group spent $120,000 on radio ads, and raised most of its money from three donors, according to filings.

This year, the Alliance has raised $1.4 million, with at least $1.1 million of those receipts coming from the oil and gas interests, according to an ABC News analysis of the group's filings to the IRS.  More than a third of the industry cash has come directly from businesses, while the remaining contributions have come from individual contributions from industry executives and investors.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Feds May Allow Campaign Donations By Text Message

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A proposal to allow people to use their cell phones to donate money to their favorite political candidates has rekindled a long-running debate about the risks of abuse associated with the technology that is rapidly changing the way American political campaigns are financed.

"I think candidates could raise a ton of money that way, and I'm naturally inclined to believe people should be able to give," said Sean Cairncross, an attorney who represents the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "But the flip side is that you lose some accountability."

Cairncross's reservations about cell phone donations center on the potential for people to donate anonymously, opening the door for unauthorized contributors and limiting the chance for disclosure. It's something he's grappled with in the past. During the 2008 presidential campaign Cairncross led an effort to challenge what he alleged were fraudulent contributions to then-candidate Barack Obama's presidential campaign, which he said slipped through because the donations flowed as part of a tidal wave of money Obama raised over the internet.

"The money they raised over the internet was off the charts," Cairncross said. "There were reports of people donating through anonymous cash cards. There were one or two who were giving well over the legal limits. Some were using names like 'Mickey Mouse' or 'Do Dad Pro.' And there was really no way to police it."

At the time, the Obama campaign said it worked aggressively to weed out and return improper donations. The questions largely subsided after the campaign was over.

But earlier this month, a group representing wireless telephone companies submitted a new request to the Federal Election Commission, proposing that candidates be allowed to use an even newer form of technology to facilitate giving donations via text messages.

In its proposal, the cell phone industry group has pointed out the massive amounts of charitable money raised through cell phone contributions after the Haiti earthquake. That's evidence, they argue, that this new method of giving has come into its own.

"The effectiveness of [cell phone messaging] to initiate small dollar contributions in short order was clearly demonstrated in the Haiti relief context earlier this year," the Sept. 10 petition to the FEC says. "Accordingly, [cell phones] are potentially significant tools in grassroots campaign organizing and fundraising and a means to promote small dollar support for federal candidate, party, and political committees."

The proposal would permit candidates to collect $10 contributions through texts sent by supporters. Each donor would have to agree to respond to questions certifying the donation is legal. The donor would have to agree, for instance, they have not given a cumulative amount more than $50 by text, that the donation is not coming from a corporation or union, and that they are not a foreign national.

Jan Baran, the campaign finance lawyer who submitted the request, said he thinks the practice will quickly become trusted and accepted. The real benefit, he said, is how easy it makes it for people to get involved in a political campaign.

"Someone could be watching the news and seeing a report about some candidate and decide right then, 'I'll send them five bucks,'" Baran told ABC News.

The proposal is consistent with existing law, he said, which already says that candidates can collect contributions of $50 or less without reporting them. "That's been the rule since 1974," he said. Moreover, he added, the wireless provider can insure the donor does not exceed a proscribed amount, and that the donation is made on a domestic cell phone, not one from overseas.

Brett Kappel, another campaign finance lawyer, said he believes it will be extremely difficult for the FEC to square this request current disclosure provisions.

"Campaign committees have a duty to collect information from all contributors and aggregate it so that if one donor gives three contributions that total more than $200 they can be itemized," Kappel said. "The way this technology works campaigns wouldn't know if multiple anonymous contributions came from one person or twenty different people."

Scott Thomas, a former FEC chairman, said he believes those concerns can be alleviated. For instance, he said, phone companies could be required to decline transactions for any cell phone where the $50 limit on anonymous contributions has been reached.

"Conceivably, the FEC could require the phone companies also to provide to benefitting campaigns electronic records showing which phone numbers and corresponding account names are associated with any batch of funds forwarded," he said.

Both parties see the potential for text messaging to provide a lucrative new avenue for candidates to raise money.

Cairncross said he believes there is "an enormous upside to it," because it makes it easier for people to get engaged. "This is a medium people communicate in now," he said.

The FEC has 60 days to make a decision.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio