Amidst reports President Barack Obama's campaign has tried to block national outlets from publishing stories about a potential campaign finance scandal, the Obama campaign announced on Twitter Saturday it raised $181 million in September in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee.
According to the campaign's tweets, 1,825,813 people donated to the campaign in September and, despite the sluggish economy and less enthusiasm for Obama than in 2008, 567,000 of those donors were new, meaning they had not donated to the campaign before in 2008 or 2012.
In addition, 98% contributions to the Obama campaign in September were $250 or less, and the average contribution was $53.
Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations, campaigns have to make their “best efforts” to collect information about contributors who donate $50-$200, but those who donate less than $200 do not have to be publicly disclosed.
Further, all donations less than $50 fall under the “Pass-the-Hat” rule, which means campaigns do not have to make their “best efforts” to collect identifying information on these donors and can actually report all such donations under a lump sum.
This means that the Obama campaign must legally disclose only about half of its September donors.
David Plouffe, the campaign's senior adviser who was Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, in his 2009 book, The Audacity to Win, compared the campaign's online fundraising performance in 2008 to an erupting volcano.
"There were times when we were raising $250,000, $300,000, even $500,000 an hour," Plouffe wrote. "It was remarkable, and critical.”
The Obama campaign and the DNC's September 2012 numbers fall a bit short of the record $190 million they raised in September 2008. In 2008, the Obama campaign was investigated for allegedly accepting donations made from untraceable pre-paid credit cards, which would allow donors to exceed the donation limits placed on them by the FEC.
On Thursday, the Washington Examiner reported a "taxpayer watchdog group" conducted a nine-month investigation and found many of Obama's donations may be coming from overseas and slipping through whatever security measures the campaign has employed against such illicit donations. The Examiner said national news outlets may be working on a potential "blockbuster" story the Obama campaign has actively tried to block.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin even suggested Obama may have been distracted by these reports and potential scandals, and they may have partially been responsible for his "terrible" debate performance against Mitt Romney last Wednesday.
Regardless of where the donations are coming from, the Obama campaign has proven during the last two election cycles that it has a dedicated number of "people" willing to donate to the campaign in the most important fundraising month, and this is what makes the organization formidable heading into November.
Below are the tweets @BarackObama sent on Saturday announcing the campaign's September fundraising numbers.