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Mar 032013
 

Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith are among the new names on an updated list of fundraisers released today by the remnants of President Obama’s re-election campaign to reflect fourth quarter contributions.

An Obama for America spokesperson says there were few additions to the list, as the bulk of fundraising came earlier in the race. The 2012 fourth quarter began Oct. 1, just over a month before Election Day.

Smith and Pinkett-Smith are new additions to the list of bundlers who raised north of $500,000. Their appearance is not surprising: In late October the Hollywood couple hosted a fundraising luncheon at their California home for first lady Michelle Obama. The event sold out 250 tickets at a minimum $2,500 per plate.

Other notable names on the list of donors who raised $500,000 or more include former New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, Gwen Stefani and Eva Longoria.

The complete updated list can be found here.

Today’s disclosure was a voluntary move by the campaign. Federal guidelines only require candidates to disclose fundraising from registered lobbyists. Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain agreed to disclose all bundlers who raised upwards of $50,000 during their 2008 election bid; Mitt Romney did not follow suit in this most recent season.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Nov 302012
 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Remember all those Obama campaign emails and their, shall we say, unusual subject lines?

“Hey,” wrote President Obama in at least five messages during the campaign.

“Hell yeah,” topped one note from strategist David Axelrod.

Beyonce Knowles teased in an inbox message, “I don’t usually email.”

And women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke provocatively reached out on “Legitimate rape.”

New data released by the campaign show that these and other catchy and casual phrases were hugely successful at getting Obama supporters to open the emails and click through to donate.

Most of the $690 million “Obama for America” raised through online fundraising came from direct email appeals, according to data provided by the president’s campaign exclusively to Bloomberg Businessweek and confirmed by ABC News.

The more casual and profane the tone, the campaign said, the more lucrative the blast.

Obama’s “Hey” subject-lined messages were the most effective pitches of all, though the campaign did not provide a specific dollar amount.

One Obama email blast from June 26 with the subject line, “I will be outspent,” raked in $2.5 million, the data provided to Bloomberg showed.  Other iterations of the same message sent under different subject headings — e.g. “Thankful every day,” or, “Michelle time” — were notably less successful, raking in $545,486 and $604,813, respectively.

The campaign relied on a staff of 20 full-time email writers who constantly drafted and experimented with different versions of appeals, officials said, sending them to small lists first to see what was most effective before mailing to a larger listserv of millions of names.

An October report by Return Path, an independent “email intelligence” group, found that Obama’s email campaign dwarfed that of GOP rival Mitt Romney in terms of scope and effectiveness.

The study found that Obama had 13 million email subscribers — five times as many as Romney — with a 68 percent inbox placement rate (evading spam filters).  Romney’s placement rate was just 50 percent, according to the group, which based its findings on a random sample of two million inboxes between Aug. 27 and Oct. 10.

All told, by ABC News’ count, Obama sent 65 fundraising emails under his name to his campaign listserv; Michelle Obama sent 35; Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent 34; deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter sent 45; national field director Jeremy Bird sent 21; and former President Bill Clinton sent nine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 192012
 

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Wednesday had his biggest single campaign fundraising day ever — including all of 2007-2008 — an Obama campaign aide confirmed to ABC News.

The record surge in contributions was attributed to Obama’s stronger second debate performance in New York Tuesday.

The aide declined to discuss specific numbers or amounts raised.

The news was first reported by Mike Allen of Politico.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 102012
 

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The pleas come with alarming regularity — sometimes from senior aides, others from Vice President Joe Biden and even from President Obama himself: Donate now or we’ll be outspent.

But for all the alarm that the Romney campaign and their outside allies would raise hundreds of millions of dollars from a small group of wealthy millionaires to drown out Obama’s message on the airwaves, that hasn’t happened.

In fact, the Obama campaign has actually dominated the airwaves where it matters — in key battleground states across the country.

A recent report by the Wesleyan Media Project found that following the conventions, the Obama campaign and its allies had actually aired more ads in battleground states than Mitt Romney and his allies.

“I do think we all expected that pro-Romney ads would be dominating the air wave and that’s certainly not what we’ve seen in the last five weeks,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

So far this cycle, the Obama campaign has raised more money overall — $432 million to Romney’s $279 million, according to OpenSecrets.org.

And in September, it raised more than any other presidential candidate in history in a single month — a whopping $181 million.  The Romney campaign has not released its September fundraising totals.

Still, on Monday, Obama campaign senior advisor David Axelrod emailed supporters asking for donations because Romney’s allies “are trying to buy this election.”

The Obama campaign argues that its successful fundraising from traditional donors doesn’t mean they won’t be eventually outgunned.  The Romney campaign may not be spending as much on ads, but his outside allies have and they can raise unlimited sums of money from very wealthy donors.

Romney has been aided by his allies in making up the spending difference between his campaign and Obama’s.

According to the Washington Post, since mid-April when Romney essentially cinched the Republican Presidential nomination, he and his allies have spent $223 million on ads, compared to $206 million by Obama and his allies.

Of the top 15 groups spending the most on ads on the airwaves during the general election, 11 support Romney.

And last week, the Romney-allied super PAC American Crossroads, along with its sister group Crossroads GPS, pledged $16 million in ads on radio and TV targeting the president, making it their largest ad-buy so far this cycle.

But Romney’s outside support may actually be one of the factors explaining Obama’s dominance on the airwaves.

Due to Federal Communications Commission regulations, political campaigns can put more ads on the airwaves for their money than outside groups.

“If you add up all the dollars, pro-Romney groups had been spending more in the last few weeks but they were getting fewer ads,” Fowler said.

Fowler’s study concluded that contrary to popular belief, the Obama campaign had aired more ads than Romney in 14 out of 15 top battleground state markets.  In that 15th market — Las Vegas — Obama was outmatched only because outside groups heavily backed their ads with cash.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 092012
 

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A conservative political watchdog group is raising the prospect of an “illegal-donor loophole” in the nation’s campaign finance system, and suggesting the grassroots-donor-heavy Obama campaign may stand to benefit.

In a 109-page report published on the new website CampaignFundingRisks.com, the Government Accountability Institute alleges the current online campaign contribution system lacks accountability and transparency, making it highly susceptible to foreign and fraudulent gifts.

The report’s focus is President Obama’s re-election campaign, which has collected historic sums from online fundraising, relying predominantly on donors who give in small-dollar increments.

Obama and Democrats announced last week that they raised $181 million in September — more than any incumbent president has raised for his re-election in a single month.  The funds poured in through more than 1.8 million transactions, 98 percent of which were in increments of $250 or less, officials said.

“Campaigns that aggressively raise money online are soliciting donations from people around the world — whether they intend to or not,” writes GAI president Peter Schweizer and Newsweek reporter Peter J. Boyer in a post on the report at Newsweek/Daily Beast.

The report suggests the Obama campaign is uninhibited in its foreign solicitations, lacks rigorous screening for donors’ citizenship and fails to impose basic e-commerce safeguards, such as requiring donors to provide the Card Verification Value (the security code on the back of a card) to prove a donor is in physical possession of the card.

Under U.S. federal election law, contributions from foreign nationals to presidential campaigns are forbidden.

“People around the world are being asked for donations by the campaigns themselves, simply because they signed up for information on campaign websites,” Schweizer and Boyer write.  “The problem: candidate webpages don’t ask visitors from foreign IP addresses to enter a military ID or passport number.  Instead, the websites use auto-responder email systems that simply gather up email addresses and automatically spit out solicitations.”

The authors claim the current system is also subject to “robo-donations” — computer-driven giving to a campaign through various aliases to evade contribution limits and avoid detection.  The Federal Election Commission conducts little to no oversight of Internet fundraising practices, leaving each campaign to police itself, the report claims.

Schweizer and Boyer present no hard data that show Obama’s 2012 campaign has benefited from widespread foreign or fraudulent donations.  They also acknowledge that Republican nominee Mitt Romney could theoretically take advantage of the “loopholes,” as well.  The report only purports to illustrate that the possibility for fraud exists.

In a post on its “Truth Team” blog, the Obama campaign called the GAI report and its insinuations politically-motivated, citing a history of right-leaning political activism by authors Schweizer and the Government Accountability Institute.

The blog states that “Obama for America” does not accept contributions from foreign nationals and takes voluntary steps to ensure that the campaign is in compliance with federal election law.  At the campaign’s Chicago headquarters, staff manually review each transaction flagged as potentially fraudulent by their third-party credit card processing service, officials wrote.

The president’s campaign also requires a copy of a valid passport from any apparently eligible contributor with a foreign mailing address or from a contributor making a gift from a foreign IP address, according to the post.  “If they do not offer one in a timely manner, the donation is returned,” the campaign says.

“While no campaign can control who visits their websites, OFA is in no way directing solicitations to foreign nationals nor knowingly seeking foreign contributions — that is the legal standard,” the Obama camp says on its blog.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio