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US Elections: About Donations to the Oval Office

US Elections: About Donations to the Oval Office

: An expensive path to the Oval Office

Sophie Steinfeld, Washington DC

03/04/2024 | 05:14 am

Elections are expensive in America. So far 400 million dollars have been spent on this. Candidates have to raise a lot of money. A look at the donors behind it.

The total cost of the presidential election campaign in the United States so far is 400 million US dollars. (thumbnail)Source: Reuters

“Hey, it's me, Nicky. Are you ready to get America back to normal? For $5 or more, I can fund my fight.” Several times a day, Joe Biden and Nikki Haley use such text messages to invite their supporters to donate to them.

President Biden and his predecessor Trump had a long-running campaign battle over the US border with Mexico. Every day, thousands of people cross the border and flee to the United States.

March 1, 2024 | 01:09 minutes

So far, according to the independent Center for Responsible Politics, Joe Biden has raised more than $160 million, putting him about $10 million ahead of Donald Trump, who has raised more than $150 million so far.

The Center for Responsive Politics is a nonprofit organization that tracks and publishes campaign finance data and statistics. The numbers in the Open Secrets database are based on, among other things, Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and information from campaign offices.

However, Trump has already had to spend about $50 million in legal fees through court cases. Republican Nikki Haley is just behind with $130 million.

More than 400 million dollars so far for the election campaign

Election campaigns in the US are long and expensive for candidates. Total spending on the 2024 presidential campaign has so far topped US$400 million — a comparable figure in no other country in the world.

US President Biden's age is becoming a campaign issue in the US after recent bouts of mental illness – but his rival Trump is also mixing things up.

02/22/2024 | 03:02 minutes

As in Germany, candidates can receive public money for election campaign purposes, but the rules for doing so are unsavory, says Michael Kang, a Northwestern University law professor and campaign finance expert.

Current Federal Election Commission rules limit campaign spending for presidential elections to more than $60 million and candidates are not allowed to accept personal donations.

What Role Do PACs and SuperPACs Play?

Hence, Political Action Committees (PACs) and Super Political Action Committees (Super PACs) play an important role in election campaigns. Since 2010, the Supreme Court has allowed the creation of PACs and super PACs, allowing corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns as long as they don't directly donate to candidates.

The US Constitution regulates who can become president. The person must:

  • Be a naturalized US citizen
  • At least 35 years old
  • And must have lived in the US for at least 14 years

But there is a so-called Riot ban In the 14th Amendment. It essentially states that no one who has previously served as a public officer can hold a high office in the state Rebellion against the government is involved.

Source: dpa

The largest amount an individual donor can give directly to a candidate is currently more than $3,000. “Corporations and associations are not allowed to donate anything directly to candidates, which is why super PACs are so popular, and the consequences for an election campaign are enormous. There is no upper limit,” says Kang.

When Timothy Mellon, heir to the Mellon banking fortune, wants to write a $10 million check to Donald Trump, he makes it out to Trump-aligned superPAC MAGA Inc.

Donors Behind SuperPACs

SuperPACs raise large amounts of money quickly. Last month, Nikki Haley's campaign received $9.8 million in donations. The pro-Halley super PAC received an additional $5.8 million in individual contributions, nearly all from donations of $100,000 or more. This is evident from the data with the Central Election Commission.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to consider former President Trump's impeachment inquiry. It's an important regional victory for Trump.

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Trump is leading in the polls, but his finances are in trouble. His campaign and one of his super PACs spent more than that last month. One reason is his high legal costs.

Events where influencers fundraise for their favorite candidate are also profitable. An evening at James Costco, a former ambassador under the Obama administration, earned Joe Biden more than $7 million in California in December.

In an election campaign that lasts as long as in the United States, major donors are essential.

Shanna Ports is a campaign finance consultant at the Independent Campaign Law Center

Money alone does not make a difference. In the 2016 election campaign, Hillary Clinton raised significantly more money than her rival, Donald Trump — and still lost.