Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Matching Funds for General and Primary

The Hotline makes a big catch scrolling through Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign website: the New York Senator may have indicated her intention to be the first candidate ever to opt out of the federal matching funds for both the primaries and the general election in the history of the program.

Look closely at Sen. Clinton's exploratory committee website, and you'll discover that she's asking for contributions as high as $4200 from individuals.

What does that mean?

Because the limit on individual contributions is $2100 per election, it means that Clinton is raising money for two accounts -- her primary account and a general election account.

In other words -- Clinton becomes the first candidate to officially acknowledge that she won't accept federal matching funds for either the primary and the general election.

It seems almost inevitable at this point that the Democratic and Republican candidates will opt out of the federal matching funds system during the general election, as an increasing number have for primary elections. That being said, it's at least somewhat surprising to see any candidate implying their intentions to do so this early in the cycle.

Update [2007-1-22 3:18:8 by Jonathan Singer]: Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, speaking with Dan Morain of the Los Angeles Times, confirms the above story (leading me to remove the question mark from the end of my headline above).

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) is the first top-tier candidate to tip her hand that she intends to leave the public money on the table. Senior Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson said by e-mail Sunday that she would not take matching funds in the primary campaign or, if she wins the Democratic nomination, in the general election.

Tags: 2008 general, Federal Matching Funds, Hillary Rodham Clinton (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Matching Funds for General and Primary?

My guess is she and her team weren't expecting people to be smart enough to notice this.

But as the comments in my diary would indicate, few people are bothered or surprised.

by Vox Populi 2007-01-21 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Matching Funds for General and Primary?

Until the price of running a general election goes down, Hillary goes to do what shes got to do to win.

by falcon4e 2007-01-21 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

Hey Jonathan,

The key sentence here is: ...to officially acknowledge that she won't accept federal matching funds for either the primary and the general election.

On the Dem side at least, Dean opted out after consulting with his Meetup groups, and Kerry followed suit, if I recall correctly. I was on the Trippi conference call when it was going down.

Regards, - Trammell

by Trammell 2007-01-21 01:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

They only opted out for the primaries, not the general.

by Jonathan Singer 2007-01-21 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

Jonathan - my guess is that this is an artifact from her Senate Campaign Website.  In other words when you run for the Senate or Congress you always ask people to contribute $4,200.  $2100 for the Primary and $2100 for the General.  I am sure her Senate campaign site and contribution pages had this wording.   I would not assume based on this that she has actually opted out of the General as well.

To date no candidate of either party has ever opted out of public funding for the General Election.  Though I urged the Kerry campaign to do so in the 2004 General -- and Senator Kerry has said that he believes now that one of the mistakes he made was not opting out of the system in the General election.

Any Democrat who does not opt out of the system in the Primary -- is not a serious candidate for President.  That was the view of the Dean campaign as we hoped our supporters gave us the green light to bolt the system -- becoming the first Democrat to ever do so -- and only the second campaign in history to do so (Bush was the first).  Tha of course forced John Kerry to opt out in the Primary and was the only reason Kerry was competitive with Bush through the summer of 2004 prior to the conventions.  Had Kerry stayed in the system he would have been crushed by Bush before he ever got the nomination ala Dukakis.

There is no one I know of who has been at or near the top of a Presidential campaign who believes that any serious candidate will stay in the system for the Primary or the General this time.   In other words I fully expect that Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Gore or who ever the nominee is -- will skip public funding in the General Election -- I am just not sure this was anything more than a bad cut and paste job moving from a Senate campaign to a Presidential exploratory committee.

by JoeTrippi 2007-01-21 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

Jonathan and Joe:

DUH -- of course you guys are right about the general -- was thinking in reverse, and not thinking through very well. And besides, Dean wasn't in the general and couldn't opt out anyway.

by Trammell 2007-01-21 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

Wait, what happens to the general election money if she doesn't make it to the general election? Can she transfer it to her senatorial campaign chest? Is she going to spend it in the primary and hope no one notices? I knew the rules had loopholes, but this seems ridiculous.

by KCinDC 2007-01-21 02:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

To me, it appears that Hillary will follow in Bill's footsteps by playing the inevitability card.  In 92 the Clinton people came to my college and told the Democrats they should support Bill because he was going to be the nominee, he had the money and the poll numbers so get on board now.  

If the other Democrats running for the nomination don't follow suit it will give the Hillary supporters the ability to say that she is the only one who is serious about winning in November.  Especially if she has $100 million or more sitting in a general election bank account long before the nomination is decided.  I vaguely recall the Kerry camp speculating about not accepting the Democratic nomination until after the Republicans held their convention so that Kerry could continue to raise and spend money for the primaries.  The logic was that Bush would have a month more than Kerry (because of the timing of the Democratic convention) to raise and spend money before he accepted public financing for the general.

by msstaley 2007-01-21 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

In total presidential candidates will hand out something like $2000 million to Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the corporate media. Talk about depressing. We badly need to reform the system.

by Populism2008 2007-01-21 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

My, how very progressive of her...

by Pericles 2007-01-21 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

She's a DLC whore, so she should opt out of taking Federal money.

She's letting us know that the DLC will be the beneficiaries of White House largesse if she wins.  We're screwed all over by faux Democrats and their johns are the corporations.

by Political Junkie 2007-01-21 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out

Rupert's got her back, why does she need to worry about cash.  I will not vote for this corporatist.  

by dkmich 2007-01-22 01:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton First Ever to Opt Out of Federal Match

Whoever the Dem nominee is better not take the federal money. That system is badly outdated and the candidate will be buried in unprecedented amounts of GOP money. No more "moral victories". No more "sending a message". We have to win the fucking White House to change the system. At any damn cost.

by OfficeOfLife 2007-01-22 02:28AM | 0 recs

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