More money was raised during the 2008 US presidential election than any other in the history of world elections.
- US elections are expensive and don’t seem to be getting cheaper. Candidates raised more money in the 2010 elections than in any other midterm election in the nation’s history.
- There is much debate within the US over campaign finance restrictions. Some feel that more restrictions should be implemented to ensure the wealthy aren’t able to drown out other voices, while others feel that such laws violate the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech.
- Barack Obama had raised US$86.2 million as of 30 September 2011.
- Republican candidates had raised US$90.3 million as of 30 September 2011.
- The Republican candidate who had raised the most funds as of 30 September 2011, was Mitt Romney with US$32.2 million (Source: Federal Election Commission).
- Follow Open Secret’s 2012 Presidential Candidate Fundraising Summary.
- A person may donate a maximum of $2,500 per candidate.
- A person may donate up to $30,800 to the Democratic or Republican National Party Committees.
- A person may donate up to $10,000 to a state, district or local committee per year.
- Unless a candidate accepts matching federal funding, there are no limits on how much a candidate can spend.
- Only US citizens are permitted to donate to a candidate or party.
- Candidates can donate an unlimited amount of money to their own campaigns.
- Corporations and businesses may donate a maximum of $2,500 per candidate.
- There are no limits on the amounts of money businesses can donate to the Democratic and Republican Conventions.
- Financial donations made on behalf of companies must be donated through "political action committees" known as PACs.
- Only companies classified as US companies may donate.
- Financial donations can also come from unions and professional associations.
- In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not prevent corporations or unions from spending money to “support or denounce candidates in federal elections”. This ruling (Citizens United v FEC) led to the creation of a new type of political action committee known as a Super PAC. Super PAC’s can raise unlimited amounts of funds and can actively support a candidate and run negative ads attacking other candidates. The main caveat is that they cannot coordinate their activities with the political campaign of any contact.
Federal Campaign Funds
- Once a candidate becomes a nominee they are eligible for a public grant of over $84.1 million for campaigning.
- To be eligible, the candidate must limit spending to the amount of the grant and may not accept private contributions for the campaign unless they are to pay for legal and accounting campaign expenses. Candidates may spend up to $50,000 from their own personal funds once they receive federal campaign funding.
- In 2008 Barack Obama became the first candidate of a major party to decline public financing.