The price of a money machine: Obama would owe more favors than any president in history

posted at 11:45 am on October 31, 2008 by Patterico

Obama’s success as the biggest fundraiser in history means that he would owe his donors more than anyone in history if he were to take office. (That is, if you believe that big donors to political campaigns expect something in return. How cynical of you to think that!)

But wait! I thought Barack Obama’s amazing fundraising success stems primarily from donations under $200. Right?

Wrong. That’s another myth you’ve been sold, sucker.

In fact, George W. Bush in 2004 had a higher percentage of contributions of $200 or less than Barack Obama has had in this campaign. Last week, the Washington Post published an article titled Big Donors Drive Obama’s Money Edge:

Lost in the attention given to Obama’s Internet surge is that only a quarter of the $600 million he has raised has come from donors who made contributions of $200 or less, according to a review of his FEC reports. That is actually slightly less, as a percentage, than President Bush raised in small donations during his 2004 race

In fact, in 2004, 31 percent of Bush’s donations came from people giving $200 or less. For John Kerry, the percentage was even higher: 37 percent.

All of this is necessary background for an excellent article by Patrick Range MacDonald in the latest L.A. Weekly, about Obama’s big donors, and the influence those donors are likely to wield in an Obama administration.

While Obama says he does not accept contributions from Washington lobbyists, that’s not much of a distinction these days. He has been accepting huge amounts from corporations, unions and endless special-interest groups. The influence of big-money donors in a possible Obama administration could create a political backlash if he doesn’t find a way to resist the enormous pressure that will be brought to bear.

MacDonald explains how Obama has raked in the bucks from big-money donors, many in the enterainment industry:

In July, a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention, Obama and his handlers formed joint fund-raising committees through a loophole (ironically created by the McCain-Feingold Act) that allows individual donors to write checks far surpassing federal limits of $2,300 — if the money was shared between a candidate and his party’s national and state committees. As a result of the loophole, “[The party committees] are avenues for individuals and others to legally donate tens of thousands of dollars,” says Boyle of Common Cause. John McCain created a similar committee, using the very loophole he had authored.

Individual donors promptly began writing checks of $25,000 or more to Obama’s and McCain’s committees. Even as the world of high finance began its stunning Wall Street meltdown, the biggest check-writers to both men were executives from securities and investment companies, according to The New York Times. The entertainment industry was also a top contributor, vastly preferring Obama.

So-called bundlers also contributed heavily to both. These ultimate political insiders, who collect donations from wealthy friends, business associates and other contacts, locally included Hollywood moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, both of whom have raised at least $500,000 for Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Basically, when you went to the movies over the last couple of years, you were making a donation to Barack Obama.

MacDonald’s article explores the question whether Obama is going to be the first guy in history to take scads of money from people and not let it affect the way he governs.

Now there is a proposition that I’m willing to put big money on.


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The gulags will be overflowing with big donors.

fogw on October 31, 2008 at 11:47 AM

What does he owe the young Palestinian boy in Hamas controlled Gaza who is running a phone bank for him?

jp on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

Gonna be even worse when he loses. Nobody likes to lose money on the wrong horse.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

Basically, when you went to the movies over the last couple of years, you were making a donation to Barack Obama.

So, by not going to a single movie in the past three years, I have: avoided brain damage, missed some cultural propaganda, and at the same time, not indirectly aided comrade Barry. Trifecta.

Vashta.Nerada on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

I wonder what “Doodad Pro” will ask for?

Slublog on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

I think that the concept of “owing” is being stretched a little thin….

LimeyGeek on October 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

It has been decided (at least by Conservatives) that Dark Barry is a puppet. The only question is who has the strings.

kybowexar on October 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Slublog on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

I hear he wants to become a pro with whooziwhatzits.

lorien1973 on October 31, 2008 at 11:50 AM

I want to know how much of that is foreign money

William Amos on October 31, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Nice to see Patterico make an appearance! Good to see you back in action at your “dot com” domain.

Flyover Country on October 31, 2008 at 11:52 AM

And a lot of these “under $200 donors” gave much more than $200, they just did it in a bunch of small contributions. I think “Doodad Pro” gave about 17K.

BuzzCrutcher on October 31, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Gonna be even worse when he loses. Nobody likes to lose money on the wrong horse.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

600 million being flushed down the toilet at once could tilt the earth on its axis!

RushBaby on October 31, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Nice to see Patterico make an appearance! Good to see you back in action at your “dot com” domain.

Flyover Country on October 31, 2008 at 11:52 AM

+1 & +1

RushBaby on October 31, 2008 at 11:53 AM

once he’s president and we inevitably call him out and criticize, possibly call for impeachment on some of these crimes already committed. The media will call us all racist, dismiss it as conservatives not liking a black president in office and ignore the actual crimes.

jp on October 31, 2008 at 11:54 AM

who is patterico?

Xolom on October 31, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Obama’s greatest threats will not come from his enemies. They’ll come from his friends.

And this article only deals with monetary contributions. What about some much bigger non-monetary ones that came in the form of silence and/or coverups?

Obama will need to create a Cabinet-level Department of Shakedowns to handle them all.

Gilda on October 31, 2008 at 11:56 AM

I guess there is zero chance of the LA Times video being released at this point huh?

jp on October 31, 2008 at 11:56 AM

And that’s assuming that all of the people who gave less than $200 gave only once. (Whether under the same name or under multiple phoney names.)

MarkTheGreat on October 31, 2008 at 11:56 AM

who is patterico?

The LA Times worst nightmare

William Amos on October 31, 2008 at 11:57 AM

posted at 11:45 am on October 31, 2008 by Patterico

Now that warms the cockles of my heart.

hit and run on October 31, 2008 at 11:58 AM

kybowexar on October 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Think: William Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Raila Odinga…you can bet they’ll all be around to collect if Osama Obama gets in.

And don’t forget Obama’s biggest debt of all, to the ghost of Uncle Joe Stalin.

Payback’s gonna be a b*tch. For us.

MrScribbler on October 31, 2008 at 12:01 PM

First.. Obama would probably and quietly start getting the “favors” in order and shower that person…

But if we haven’t noticed the MSM is getting tired of being Ignored” so who do you think might actually watch what is happening and report it?

God help us in the Fairness Doctrine comes into play.

upinak on October 31, 2008 at 12:02 PM

So-called bundlers also contributed heavily to both

Yep. I can’t wait for Jodie Evans of Code Pink, and Marilyn “SDS” Katz to get rewarded for their kind generosity.

Buy Danish on October 31, 2008 at 12:02 PM

kybowexar on October 31, 2008 at 11:49 AM

I would say that George Soros is probably high on the list of suspects.

Vic on October 31, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Heh.I don’t go to the movies.

Jed1899 on October 31, 2008 at 12:07 PM

Woah woah woah… a Patterico spot on Hot Air? ….. Awesome!

Tacitus_SGL on October 31, 2008 at 12:08 PM

Rush is on. Says his gut is talking to him. I guess he got my mmo.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:08 PM

Given the ridiculous level of expectations, the number of donors, and the way different factions have projected their own politics onto Obamarx, he is BOUND to disappoint somebody, and deeply so.

thirteen28 on October 31, 2008 at 12:09 PM

What does he owe the young Palestinian boy in Hamas controlled Gaza who is running a phone bank for him?
jp on October 31, 2008 at 11:48 AM

A refusal to ally with Israel any longer, though that’s already on Obummer’s list so the boy may ask for something else.

Bishop on October 31, 2008 at 12:10 PM

There are two major ways politicians make big money…one is outlined above.
The other not talked about is by taxing…not the taxes themselves, but as soon as you begin messing with the tax code, the big money comes out for loopholes.
That will be the next step, and why taxes are so much an instrument for politicians. They could care less how much the government makes, it is how much they make from special interests.
You don’t think there will be special “codes” for the mortgage industry? For oil companies, investment firms, energy, mining, farming?
Look at the members on the Ways and Means committee (who controls the tax code), that is the most powerful committee in congress, reserved for the most powerful, most influential, and most loyal.

right2bright on October 31, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Given the ridiculous level of expectations, the number of donors, and the way different factions have projected their own politics onto Obamarx, he is BOUND to disappoint somebody, and deeply so. – thirteen28 on October 31, 2008 at 12:09 PM

All of them, in fact. And once they wipe the egg from their collective face, the Drive-Bys will destroy him.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Rush is on. Says his gut is talking to him. I guess he got my mmo.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:08 PM

What is he saying since I won’t hear him for another hour or so.

upinak on October 31, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Whoa, Iowahawk just got himself a Rushalanche.

Prepare yourself, Hawk, your server is about to get hammered.

Bishop on October 31, 2008 at 12:12 PM

And once they wipe the egg from their collective face, the Drive-Bys will destroy him.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:11 PM

I don’t think that slimy stuff on thier faces is egg.

Vic on October 31, 2008 at 12:12 PM

The Joint Victory Fund for the Obama/DNC campaign has been in operation for only 3 months and has raised over 160 million dollars.

All those big donor events you have been seeing are funding this fund which is split.

The individual donation cap is 28,500.00 per donor. That is in addition to the 4600.00 they could have given in the primary/general campaign funds.

CommentGuy on October 31, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Obama won’t have a problem with the IOUS. He’ll treat them as he does everyone else, just ignore it or say it meant “something else” etc.

Read this, for a good compilation of “Obama the virtuous”, sadyly it’s incomplete but a good start.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2120699/posts

Webrider on October 31, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Nice to see Patterico make an appearance! Good to see you back in action at your “dot com” domain.

Flyover Country on October 31, 2008 at 11:52 AM

+1 & +1

RushBaby on October 31, 2008 at 11:53 AM

+1 +1… cubed

Karl on October 31, 2008 at 12:15 PM

What is he saying since I won’t hear him for another hour or so.

upinak on October 31, 2008 at 12:11 PM

He just said if Obama is not up by 10 points, the Bradley effort will factor in.

Les in NC on October 31, 2008 at 12:19 PM

But, but, but – 0bama told Charlie Gibson:

And there’s no industry, there’s no group out there that I owe favors to as a consequence of this campaign. In fact, I would argue that probably — should I be successful, I may come into the White House with fewer strings attached to me than just about any presidential candidate in history.

Quisp on October 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Bradley effect.

Les in NC on October 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Rush is on. Says his gut is talking to him. I guess he got my mmo.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:08 PM

I recommend Rolaids. Or Tums.

MrScribbler on October 31, 2008 at 12:25 PM

I have to say I am less worried about the money angle, than the amount of Ayers types who will hold blackmail material over his head.

Odinga, Ayers, Rezko, Wright, Khallid, and those who ran his borderline illegal campaign finances (under Sarbains/Oxley), will ALL have information which must continue to be kept secret.

Payoff will be soon, and it will be in a very LEFTIST agenda.

Romeo13 on October 31, 2008 at 12:29 PM

I don’t think that slimy stuff on thier faces is egg.

Vic on October 31, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Eewww. . . . but you’re probably right.

AZCoyote on October 31, 2008 at 12:40 PM

I recommend Rolaids. Or Tums. – MrScribbler on October 31, 2008 at 12:25 PM

heh

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:40 PM

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:08 PM

After hearing Rush talk about the latest crap this guy has done . . .

I haven’t honestly been scared of the possibility of this guy taking the reins before, but I am now.

Ryan Gandy on October 31, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Obamasera: Be my friend… Godfather.
[kisses Don Corleone's ring]
Don Corleone: Good. Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But, until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.
Obamasera: Grazie, Godfather.
Don Corleone: Bene.

ronsfi on October 31, 2008 at 12:42 PM

What is he saying since I won’t hear him for another hour or so. – upinak on October 31, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Basically, he’s saying what Ed wrote in the conference call post. His gut is telling him that this election can be won by McCain. Obama is hading to Iowa on Monday. problem is, Iowa should have been a lock for him. Bambi is in heap big trouble.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:43 PM

After hearing Rush talk about the latest crap this guy has done . . .I haven’t honestly been scared of the possibility of this guy taking the reins before, but I am now. – Ryan Gandy on October 31, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Meh. Bambi is going to lose.

ManlyRash on October 31, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Fear Obama, but you should really fear David Axelrod and Rohm Emanuel bringing stone cold, bare knuckles Chicago politics to DC. These guys put action to the sentiments of Howard Dean. Republicans in DC will be sheep to the slaughter.

The House that Rohm built. Know your enemy.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-0611120215nov12,0,2221283.story

Angry Dumbo on October 31, 2008 at 12:55 PM

I think Obama could enter office as the most corrupt President in U.S. history.

Christoph on October 31, 2008 at 12:56 PM

I look at BO’s campaign expenditures as a reflection of how his administration would work. Collect huge chucks of money and just spend it. Of course in his administration the contributions won’t be voluntary.

For a guy that has raised & spent 2x more than his opponent, has the Mud Steam Media in his hop pocket, is benefiting from an economic downturn created mostly by his party and all he can manage is a 3-5% lead? Now that is HOPE I can believe in.

Every conservative needs to take 3 lousy hours and VOTE! No frakkin excuses. Bring your family and friends. Bring a book. But get out and vote. If we do this we can win.

VikingGoneWild on October 31, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Angry Dumbo on October 31, 2008 at 12:55 PM

either the failing war

Who the heck do they have writing their crap at the Tribune?

Ryan Gandy on October 31, 2008 at 1:00 PM

Bradley effect.

Les in NC on October 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

There is no such thing as the “Bradley” effect…except this. Mayor Bradley was as extreme left as Obama, and as the election day got closer (like now) reasonable people began thinking about the liberal policies and the money needed to support those policies. Along with the typical liberal garbage. The LAT, and Mayor Bradley’s campaign (and liberals) created the “Bradley” effect to save face, they could not say his policies stunk, so they created a “false” effect. Bradley was overwhelming supported in L.A. for Mayor, with no “Bradley” effect, but when his policies became law, their was a backlash.
Please, don’t fall for the liberal “Bradley” effect. Here is my closing argument.
If Thomas Sowell was a young man running for office, conservative would trample each other to cast a vote for him. Michael Steele, J.C. Watts, and others proved it didn’t exist.

right2bright on October 31, 2008 at 1:06 PM

These people are fools. Obama will discard his supporters after the election exactly the same way Bill Clinton did. All they will get is a commemorative Inaugural invitation, if they are lucky.

rockmom on October 31, 2008 at 1:11 PM

Bradley effect.

Les in NC on October 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM

What about the Obama effect?

Means that people won’t vote for a horse’s ass.

JiangxiDad on October 31, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Means that people won’t vote for a horse’s ass.

JiangxiDad on October 31, 2008 at 1:12 PM

We can only wish for presidential candidates of such caliber ;)

LimeyGeek on October 31, 2008 at 1:15 PM

JiangxiDad on October 31, 2008 at 1:12 PM

I think if said effect were named for anyone, it would have been for Carter. ~~~~

Ryan Gandy on October 31, 2008 at 1:31 PM

Ack.

Stupid multiple browser tabs.

Ryan Gandy on October 31, 2008 at 1:32 PM

What about the Obama effect?

Means that people won’t vote for a horse’s ass.

JiangxiDad on October 31, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Now that one is accurate…

right2bright on October 31, 2008 at 1:39 PM

Every conservative needs to take 3 lousy hours and VOTE! No frakkin excuses. Bring your family and friends. Bring a book. But get out and vote. If we do this we can win.

VikingGoneWild on October 31, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Yes, and afterward, go have a nice dinner (doesn’t need to be expensive), and feel good about voting in McCain/Palin.
Just the look of the liberal pundit faces on Wednesday wants me to go out and vote again…if I was a democrat I would…

right2bright on October 31, 2008 at 1:41 PM

Who the heck do they have writing their crap at the Tribune?

Ryan Gandy on October 31, 2008 at 1:00 PM

I re-read this article this AM. The article is insightful. Emanuel is tough and takes no prisoners. The article speaks of recruiting social conservatives like Heath Schuler and veterans to run in traditionally conservative districts. The only goal is the acquisition of power over principle. I think this is where conservatives can counterpunch, not so much to win hearts and minds, but to dispirit democrats and left leaning independents.

Specifically, I was never a big McCain fan, however, I was never so proud of a candidate as I was of McCain saying he was going to take public financing for the election after Barak Obama broke his promise to do the same. I don’t think campaign finance reform is even Constitutioal, still McCain stood on principle and may lose the election because of it.

McCain would rather lose an election than lose a war. Likewise McCain’s principled stand on taking public financing true to the spirit of McCain Feingold is the kind of principled leadership (namely leadership that pays a political price) that can sever the Achilles heel of the power politics of Rahm Emanuel and apparently Barak Obama.

Angry Dumbo on October 31, 2008 at 1:43 PM

Rumor has it that he’s getting millions from the Middle East.

One has to wonder, then, what quid pro quo will be exacted by them.

If he does get in he will be protected by a troika consisting of: MSM, Congress, Justice Department.

Be afraid!!! Be very afraid!!!

pocomoco on October 31, 2008 at 2:05 PM

600 million on campaign contribution let me think. If Obama win it will become the most corrupt administration in the history of the US.

pukara61 on October 31, 2008 at 2:22 PM

The Democratic Party of 2008 led by Rahm Emanuel, Charles Schumer, David Axelrod and Barak Obama places the acquisition and retention of power over everything else.

When Obama broke his very public promise to accept public financing, the secret that the Democratic Party was guided by the lust for power over principle was laid bare.

By standing behind McCain-Feingold and the laudable goal of taking money out of politics EVEN AFTER Barak Obama broke his pledge not to raise campaign funds during the general election, McCain took a principled stand.

Standing on principle even when it hurts you politically is called leadership.

Rahm, Chuck, David, and Barak may be great at raising money, building coalitions, and winning elections, but they aren’t leaders and do not appear to have any principled lines they will not cross to retain power.

A party without principle is a party without a soul.

Angry Dumbo on October 31, 2008 at 3:26 PM