Romney, GOP Trump Obama and Dems in May Campaign Fundraising

Friday, June 08, 2012

Mitt Romney at a Memorial Day event in San Diego Mitt Romney at a Memorial Day event in San Diego (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

Fundraising was long thought to be a strength of the Obama campaign operation. But in his first full month as the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee raised more than $76 million. That easily bested President Obama and the Democrat's $60 million haul. In a campaign on pace to become the most expensive in history, The Takeaway and It's A Free Country look at where all this money is coming from and where it's going.

Anna Sale is a reporter for WNYC's It's A Free Country. Dave Levinthal is a reporter for Politico.

Anna Sale has been covering campaign funding and will take your questions as part of our ongoing coverage of campaign finance. Check out Anna's previous reporting and leave your questions below.

 

Guests:

Dave Levinthal and Anna Sale

Produced by:

Joseph Capriglione

Comments [4]

Charles

And here are three more questions:

~ What was Citizens United all about? A small non-profit, calling itself Citizens United, was involved in the production and distribution of the film "Hillary." The organizers of Citizens United had seen that Michael Moore had released his own film, "Fahrenheit 911" in the leadup to the 2004 presidential election. They proposed to do the same thing. They did not accept that the McCain-Feingold "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)" could bar them from distribution of the film shortly before an election. It seemed to them to be inconsistent with the First Amendment, that they could be barred from expression of political beliefs through film, in the critical period before an election. In the case of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court agreed.

~ What prior cases on the subject of campaign finance law were overturned by the decision in Citizens United? Because President Obama took time out of his 2010 State of the Union Address to say: "The Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign companies -- to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities." In fact, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United did reverse one prior case. That case was a 1990 decision called Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce that had also been a 5-4 decision and which had been the subject of much prior criticism.

~ What about "foreign corporations"? Are they now allowed to influence U.S. elections (as President Obama suggested)? No, mostly. There are a number of federal laws that severely limit any electioneering by foreign corporations. That means not only donations to candidates, but also independent expenditures. A full explanation might require a 50-page legal brief; but it would be a lot truer to say that Obama was wrong when he claimed that Citizens United opened "floodgates" of foreign corporation money, than it would be to say that he was right. The president misled the nation with that statement.

Jun. 08 2012 03:49 PM
Charles

Here are three questions, for which I already know the answers. Judging by the NPR.org comments pages, and a number of comments on The Takeaway whenever "Citizens United" comes up, it would seem that many public radio listeners don't understand these issues, and/or their radio hosts have done a very bad job of reporting on Citizens United.

~ Did Citizens United open the door to campaign contributions to candidates by corporations? No. Citizens United dealt with independent expenditures. That is, not giving any money to any candidates but rather just talking about candidates and elections.

~ Did Citizens United create the device known as a Super PAC? No. A case from the U.S. Court of Appeals, SpeechNow.org v. FEC did that. The Supreme Court was not involved, although Citizens United was cited as one legal authority in the case.

~ Can Super PACs get away with raising and spending a lot of money without reporting any of it? "No," is the best general answer to this question. Super PACs in 2012 have been raising the vast majority of their money from individuals who are noted on FEC filing documents. Individual spending was not the subject of Citizens United; corporate spending was. From FEC reports filed so far, few corporations have been involved in any significant Super PAC funding. And we mostly DO know how the leading Super PACs have raised and spent their money in the presidential campaign.

Jun. 08 2012 03:48 PM
Peter from Boston

When the president does fundraising for reelection, who covers the costs associated with his travel, e.g. air force one, secret service, etc...?

Jun. 08 2012 09:25 AM
Raul Cernuda from Miami, FL

As a commoner, I am disgusted that we have finally reached the point in our history that our government can be bought. These SuperPAC's generate incredible amounts of money, for a candidate. It is clear that the White House is sold to the highest bidder. Once bought, policy is shaped to benefit the corporations. They write donation checks with more zeros then I'll see in my life. Is there any way back from here? Can "we the people" ever take America Inc. back for ourselves? We can not compete with our wallets, how can we compete? Is the White House really for sale?
Thank you.

Jun. 08 2012 09:22 AM

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