Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Obama says no to public financing; McCain throws hissy fit

John McCain attacks Barack Obama for not using public funding to finance presidential campaignGiven Barack Obama's astronomical fundraising numbers, it was only a matter of time before he decided to eschew public funds to finance his campaign. From today's Times:

Democrat Barack Obama today rejected public financing for his presidential campaign, changing an earlier stand and becoming the first major party candidate to drop out of the system since it began after the Watergate scandal....

Early in the primary season, Obama had said he would use public financing if his Republican opponent did. But that was before the presumptive Democratic nominee harnessed the Internet and became a fund-raising powerhouse.

This move not only makes Obama the first major candidate in more than 30 years to reject public funding (which forbids candidates from raising private funds), but also goes back on his very public indications he would agree to public funding. (See an earlier Times' editorial admonishing Obama for waffling on his pledge.)

Needless to say, McCain has been gleefully calling foul all morning — he can afford to point fingers, in part because his fundraising numbers are pretty anemic compared to Obama's.

But McCain is no angel, either. Remember when he allegedly used public funds as backup to apply for a loan, and then tried immediately to withdraw from the public funding system?  (Attempting to escape, ironically, from the very system he helped set up.) The outraged Dems filed suit shortly thereafter. The Federal Election Commission, lacking quorum, couldn't do much about it, either — which probably suited McCain just fine.

That incident aside, there are plenty of other loopholes that allow the private sector to creep in, a point Obama drove home in a video released this morning:

It's not an easy decision, especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interests PACs. We've already seen that he's not gonna stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.

Swiftboating, anyone?

Tell us what you think:

-- Amina Khan

*Photo: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg News


Comments () | Archives (37)

The comments to this entry are closed.


At first I was against this move by Obama, but then his campaign mentioned that they'd tried to make a deal with McCain not use 527 organizations and PAC funding, but couldn't meet an agreement. If McCain isn't willing to back up his side of the deal there's no reason Obama should give up one of his advantages.


This is public financing.


straight up chess game and obama is ahead. man, is mc cain trying to be slick or what? thanks for posting the information skye. will spread that post over the net


It's somewhat ironic that by eschewing public funding, Obama is in effect turning his back on special interest groups and looking to the larger American public to fund his campaign.

What this proves to me, is that it is time for campaign funding reform in our country.


The issue here is not whether he takes the funding or not, but that this is further proof that we can't trust the empty suit any further than we can throw it. Despite the suit being empty, it is full of ambiguous platitudes of "Change" which really weigh him down. And really, "Swiftboating, anyone?" The only reason Kerry got "swiftboated" is because people from his past came out and said how full of it he was, which will certainly happen to SNOBama because he's worse .

Dan Gerard

Did the L.A. Times really just use "hissy fit" in a news headline? Wow. Journalism is truly dead.


You've got to be completely brainwashed to think that Obama isn't already running his campaign using public financing.

1.5 million people have funded his campaign so far.

McCain should be happy with the fact that Obama is choosing not to use the tax dollars of Americans that might not even want to vote for him; especially since he wouldn't be spending public funds and using taxes to run the government...the exact thing McCain and the Republican party is against.

Talk about flip-flopping hypocrites!

Ronald Johnson

Would we call this flipfloprisy? Ron



PAC spending is pretty even, especially when you consider the non federal reporting committees such as America Coming Together, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_Coming_Together, which should add 10 million plus to the democrats side in the 2006 year.

PAC funding summary:

you can try to spin this all you want but Obama has lied, so much for change in politics.


I guess this is what Change is all about...

Otto Focus

Obama is just another slimeball Chicago polithug. Pity, I switched parties to support him in the primary. He will get buried by the Clinton Machine before the convention and we will be stuck with McCain and company.

Dennis Myers

The headline on this piece is really unprofessional for a newspaper like the Times. It's like something on Inside Edition.


He is by the people and for the people.


Change we can believe in.
Today he's courting the unions, tomorrow he be back in


I'm seriously not understanding why this is an issue. Why does it matter that Obama has chosen not to use that source of money? McCain should be happy. If McCain wants to use the money, can't he?
I figure the less taxpayer money, the better.


Leave it to my party, the party of "limited government", the party that hates wasteful spending, the party that likes to call any spending by government "socialist", to complain when a candidate doesn't take money from the public pocket in order to run a campaign.

This is why I'm a Republican for Obama. McCain and his followers have lost their bearings. If only McCain had the balls to not ask the tax payer to pony up for his campaign and to find individuals who think he is worthy enough to contribute to. Instead, he's mad when a supposedly big government liberal turns down campaign welfare checks.

Well, now that McCain's on welfare and Obama isn't, I guess McCain finally has something in common with the poor in this country.


coco - that you defend the discredited swiftboats who never provided ANY evidence of their claims, speaks volumes about where you're coming from.

Too bad you're ignorant about the swiftboaters, the VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO WENT AFTER KERRY, already went after McCain in this election and they will probably do more. I suspect you won't be so permissive of it when they're targeting the candidate you've sworn allegiance to.

Peter Griffin

I thought Obama was different. This sounds like more of the same. Where is Hillary when you need her?



The money is from the people who believe in change. The ones who are complaining on this board are not donating so why do you care?

I will continue to donate to President Obama's campaign for change.


No More Lobbyist!!!!!!

Senator Obama has said many times, "Lobbyist will not run my White House."

Getting rid of the extremely negative impact of lobbyist is one of the major reasons I support Senator Obama.

McCain has flip-flopped on many things. Yesterday he told the citizens of Missouri about a gas tax holiday he knows Congress will never approve.

Prior to McCain's event in Missouri yesterday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said in a conference call that McCain's plan would cost the state 6,000 jobs and $167 million in federal gas tax dollars for Missouri's roadways.

"The people of Missouri can smell a phony deal a mile away," she said. "Frankly, that’s what John McCain’s gas tax is. He knew it wasn’t going to have any meaningful impact on people’s real pain – our dependence on foreign oil."

McCaskill said it was "a promise he knew he would never have to deliver on."

The "Could McCain Have Come Up with a More Ill-Suited Economic Advisor Than Phil Gramm?" is one of many examples for the damage caused by lobbyist specifically gas prices and the subprime housing damage.



It is commendable that Obama asks the public to give if they want - public funding means our tax dollars could be used for things we don't want to fund. I always appreciate a choice.

Saint Gabriael

It is a waste of Money we have Floods and Tornadoes We are at War because of Greed Money...WE do not need a President.Obama is this AntiChrist. His soul Bears the Seed of Shey and will castrate the will to destruct some of Mankind...It is what it is to Know...The Way for yourself...It has just begun of the Holocust that Obama will Reign over the land the end of the American Way...
Good Bye to the Red White and Blue Hello Jesus and Just is what it is...To gut up and take cover...for War on our land as the Mad man will destroy our land...

Chris, Seattle WA

My $80 or so that I've been able to afford to donate so far IS public financing.

I am the public. I voluntarily chose to donate what I could to the Obama campaign, and will continue to do so as I can afford.

John McCain is the one who's the hypocrite on campaign finance in this election.

He applied for primary financing from the FEC, then used that 'promisory note' of public funds to obtain a loan to keep his campaign afloat and to get on the ballot in primary states - then he "withdrew" from FEC financing - even though it was ILLEGAL to do so - since the FEC commission didn't have enough seats filled to reach a quorum, John McCain has not had to answer for breaking campaign finance laws.

He's used Cindy McCain's private jet for campaign travel, and hasn't paid standard rates as required by campaign finance law - campaigns are required to reimburse for the use of a business jet if it is used for campaign purposes.

Barack Obama's "word" was that he was willing to negotiate with the McCain campaign on the idea of them both accepting public financing - but the McCain campaign refused to come to an agreement on the outside influence of the millions and millions of dollars spent by PACs and 527's on behalf of (or more often, against) the candidates - which means NO DEAL.

The reason John McCain's trying to make such big deal about this non-issue is because that's all he's got - he can't win on real issues, so he has to cry about big, mean Obama raising an order of magnitude more funding than he can, and pull out the old "9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11" with Rudy Guiliani simpering by his side in a rumpled, worse-for-wear rerun of the 2004 Republican Convention.

Tired and hollow.


LA Times - Dont you think you should filter the nonsensical posts?

Saint Gabriel - uh... what?

Donnie Green JR>

dam good move PRESIDENT OBAMA


The dems have gotten so comfortable with their lie that the Republicans are the party of money that they actually excuse their latest empty suit and sophist for his historic shunning of public funds. The ten richest senators are all democrats. They are the party of money and 527s. But they are also the party of Marx, of propaganda, of repeating lies often enough to make them true. They are also the party of social engineering, campus indoctrination, and sudden groupthink, so it's no wonder they've been so easily assimilated into the vacuous cult of Obama. The Left will constantly cry "swift-boat" never admitting much of what was said of Lurch was true. They cry "swift-boat" again, manipulating, repeating the language of deceit, while never acknowledging the George Soros funded Moveon.org - the most influential, money-flushed, and nasty 527 out there. Obama is taking the cash. And his bullsh*t "party of the little man" is salivating over themselves for yet another brave move. The point is simple; public funds limits what you can spend to an ample 80 plus million. Obama is looking, as are his supporters, to vastly surpass this total - maybe amassing 300 million to basically outspend and buy the election through their best weapon - easy targets, friendly journalistic coverage, and media saturation. You idiots are the tools of 1984 and have gotten so comfortable thinking otherwise you no longer realize Orwell was talking about you.


---> I fiance Barack Obama's campaign.... $25 at a time.


---> I fiance Barack Obama's campaign.... $25 at a time.


---> I fiance Barack Obama's campaign.... $25 at a time.


as much as i would like to have obama, rather than mccain, in the white house, i am very disappointed by his public-financing decision. he was supposed to be all about "change" and here he turns politics back to the days when he was in grade school. i saw more details spelling this out at: www.straightrecord.com.


You people are just sheep. It really is ok to still support your guy but admit when he is wrong. Public finance reform is important. It was started back in the 70's by the Democrats. He pledged to use the system to distance himself from special interest. Obama has more special interes ads in this election that McCain. Moveon.org is running ads as I type this. AFL-CIO has already pledged $50 million to help defeat McCain (that is over half of McCain's total budget). McCain has denounced every single special interest group's ad to date. No sense bashing me, because I am hitting "post" and leaving. Just think about the issues. Obama might (probably) is still the best man for the job. However, IMHO, this was not a good decision and there is a reason why no presidential candidate has done it in 30+ years.

Tim Cavanaugh

I'm speaking only for myself here, not the ed board, but I'm encouraged by both the survey results and many of the comments. Particularly the widespread recognition that money you give of your own volition is public money. At this rate "public" might stop being a cussword within our lifetimes.

What a long way we've come since the conventional wisdom (and I shared it!) was that BCFRA was was an "effort by saintly do-gooder Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and loose-cannon maverick presidential hopeful Senator John McCain (R-Arizona)" to "inject a modicum of bleach into the nation's cesspool of campaign financing."

I revel, I caper, I cavort in Obama's decision.


Hey, sean?

"MoveOn, the advocacy group supporting Barack Obama, has decided to permanently shutter its 527 operation, partly in response to the Illinois Senator's insistence that such groups should not spend on his behalf during the general election, I've learned from the group's spokesperson.

MoveOn's decision, which will dramatically impact the way it raises money on Obama's behalf, is yet another sign of how rapidly Obama is taking control of the apparatus that's gearing up on his behalf. "

Let's see if McCain does anything similar.


Obama lied, liberal media doesn't care. Nothing new to see here.


What's most disturbing is how Obama is above reproach. It's become almost blasphemy to criticize him in anyway. Kudos to John Stewart for pointing this out in his comedy routine, but he'll probably catch flack for that, just like the rest of us. It's as if Obama has been packaged and sold to us as some kind of diety, when he's nothing more than a junior senator, with a thin resume, who voted present a hundred times at his job.


Being independent politically... I find it fascinating how democrats have become so unwilling to honestly critique their own candidates. The republican's have no problem attacking McCain for "not being conservative enough" yet the Democrats turn a blind eye to every flawed proposal, flip-flop, and/or lie from Obama! Obama broke a promise to seek public financing if his Republican counterpart was willing to do so. Admit it... and quit making excuses for Obama!! He makes enough excuses on his own!!


Not sure what the fuss is about. All well and good if one or both candidates choose not to use public fundings to campaign with. Reform and regulation (yes, a dirty word but needed for dirty tactics) are badly needed and need to be enforced with stiff penalties. In fact, why not take all funds collected by all candidates and put it into one pot, then divide equally amongst the candidates? This could be an excellent way to curb the special interests and lobbies from having an influence over candidates in the future. It could also level the playing field and keep qualified candidates in the game and limit the election of those with all the money.



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...