Those Undisclosed Obama Donors

By Nitya

Oct 21, 2008 8:30am

In an attempt at political jujitsu (soon to enter the Hall of Verboten Clichés — but not yet), the McCain campaign and the RNC have been attempting to put Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on the defensive about his record-shattering fundraising, which includes an unprecedented $150 million September.

Obama, of course, opted out of public financing, despite an earlier pledge to do so, an issue of real contention for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who (rightly) feels it’s a broken promise Obama hasn’t gotten much heat for from either the media or government reform proponents.

More recently, Republicans have been pointing out that Obama does not disclose the names of donors who contribute less than $200 to his campaign. He is under no legal obligation to do so, but his failure to provide those names, it can certainly be argued, doesn’t live up to his pledges of transparency and openness.

Ergo, the Republican National Committee today introduced a searchable public database of un-itemized RNC donors -– those who contributed less than $200 to the RNC from the time McCain became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

You can access it HERE.

“Sen. Obama talks a lot about openness and transparency, but Republicans walk the walk.  Here we have another example of Obama’s rhetoric in no way matching his record,” RNC Chairman Mike Duncan said in a statement.  “When will Barack Obama stand up and follow through on his rhetoric?  When will he stop talking about leadership and exhibit it?”   

And yesterday, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis held a conference call on the subject.

Davis called Obama’s $150 million September “an extraordinary amount of money, and an unbelievable track record for somebody who, no question, will go down in political history, regardless of the outcome of this election, as the greatest fundraiser in presidential political history.”

That said, Davis went on –- per ABC News’ Arnab Datta -– "it brings up, though, an important, an important question for this campaign.  From Day One, Barack Obama said he was going to bring in a new style of politics, he talked about being the most transparent campaign seen today, in fact, has challenged other people on their transparency throughout the course of the election, whether it was his primary opponents or others, and what is most amazing is that, regardless of repeated calls and questions in the media about his contributions and what he’s done, he has refused to — to this point, release any of his donors under $200 a person. 

“Obviously, in order to raise $150 million, he has had to include, again, hundreds of thousands, if not close to a million, new donors into his campaign,” Davis said. “And what is also something that I think is important to note, is that it is the first campaign since the Watergate era that has taken primary fundraising efforts and driven it all the way through and into the general election.

"So, not only are the donors that he has received in September an important question mark as to why these aren’t being disclosed, but all the donations that he got during the primary are useable in the general election.  It’s the first time that’s ever happened, and it raises questions about, you know, what of these donors, too, were qualified, and why isn’t the Obama campaign reporting them?  Clearly, they have a significant Internet capacity, there’s no question that technology allows this to happen.”

Davis said that he has “no doubt that, you know, the vast majority of those are probably legitimate.  But they’re being kept secret by the Obama campaign, for no good reason.”

I myself haven’t heard a good reason as to why Obama is refusing to disclose the names of these donors, unlike the McCain campaign.

Have you heard one? Do you care?

- jpt

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