President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign may have just started today, but it has already put out a subtle hint that it won’t accept federal funds for the 2012 general election.
Online donation forms released Monday morning by Obama for America have a carefully worded disclaimer that discusses individual contributions going toward the general election.
“By submitting your contribution,” the statement reads, “you agree that the first $2,500 of a contribution will be designated for the 2012 primary election, and any additional amount, up to $2,500 will be designated for the 2012 general election.”
If Obama for America chooses to spend these donations during the general election, campaign finance law would not allow him to also accept public financing.
It’s not a surprise since Obama for America was not expected to accept public financing during 2012. His campaign has the potential to raise several times the amount doled out by the federal government.
“No one is accepting public funds for the general election this time,” predicted Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. He estimated that public financing for the general election may run $90 million to $95 million during the 2012 race. “I don’t expect either the Democratic or the Republican nominee to accept general funds this time because the spending limits are out of sync with the increases in the costs of presidential campaigns.”
Obama took the same risk in the 2008 election by not accepting federal funds, and it paid off as he raised record sums that gave him a sizable advantage over Republican opponent Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who accepted the $84 million from the government.
In addition to this disclaimer redesignating funds to the general election, Obama for America has quite a checklist of compliance questions that had to be verified before individuals were allowed to contribute to his campaign.
By checking the box, contributors attest to not being corporations, unions or federal contractors and affirm they are U.S. citizens who are donating their own funds. With this legal language, Obama for America is creating a disclaimer to enforce campaign finance laws that have existed for years.
But the campaign goes a step further with other parts of the seven-point checklist.
To make a donation, contributors also state that they are not federal lobbyists, political action committees or minors under 16. These donations are not prohibited under federal laws, yet Obama has chosen not to accept these donations. During the 2008 campaign, Obama also did not accept donations from federally registered lobbyists and PACs.