Fundraising plays a crucial role in the US presidential campaigns. Funds are procured through wealthy donors and companies, lobbyists of large companies, individual donation by citizens, other fund raising programs –this includes attending parties in private homes, the payment of which will be borne by the individuals for the privilege of being present at such dos.
The fund, so raised, is applied for the salaries of non-volunteers in the campaign, transportation, campaign materials, media advertisements and other contingencies.
Federal Elections Commission
United States law makes it mandatory for officially declared candidates to file their campaign finance details with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Such details have to be filed at the end of every calendar month or quarter. Thereafter the summary of these finance details are made public that clearly reveal the financial situations of all the campaigns.
Role of Political Action Committee
The Political Action Committee (PAC) in the US is a type of organization that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaigns for or against candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation.
Under following capping the federal multi-candidate PACs may contribute:
Capped at USD 5,000 to a candidate or candidate committee for each election (primary and general elections count as separate elections)
Capped at USD 15,000 to a political party per year; and
Capped at USD 5,000 to another PAC per year.
PACs, however may make unlimited expenditures independently of a candidate or political party.
Rise of the Super PACs
Lately, a relatively new type of committee called the Super PAC has come to the fore. The super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money in support or opposition to a candidate. Such funds can be raised from unions, associations, corporations and individuals.
Super PACs have to disclose donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or semi-annual basis, but often don't have to disclose donors until after the election.
The opensecrets.org report said that as of October 28, 2016, “2,366 groups organized as super PACs have reported total receipts of USD 1,403,939,675 and total independent expenditures of USD 940,420,829 in the 2016 cycle.”
Overall reports released as on October 27 have shown that, in total, Donald Trump has raised USD 292 million between his campaign and affiliated Super PACs, including his own contributions, whereas Hillary Clinton has hauled in more than twice that, at USD 718 million.
Trump, a New York real estate developer who has boasted about his wealth, pledged to use millions of his personal assets to fund his campaign. In addition to the USD 163 million raised, he put in USD 47.5 million during the primary and then added another USD 8.6 million.
When it comes to staff, Trump has spent USD 5 million, compared with Clinton's spending of about USD 38 million.
Trump had 168 people on his payroll in September, more than doubling the 82 he had on staff in July. Additionally, Trump spent USD 5 million on field consultants, part-time workers who are not part of the main staff.
Clinton had 815 people on her staff in September.
On advertising, Trump has spent USD 48.7 million while Clinton has spent USD 204 million - allowing her to blanket the airwaves with a deluge of advertisements.
Overall, Trump has spent about USD 190 million by the end of September, compared with Clinton's USD 401 million.
Trump and Clinton can collect donations up to USD 5,400 from a single individual, but can also collect larger cheques that are then divided between the campaign and joint fundraisers with the national and state parties.
The funds that candidates raise for the national and state political parties are still used for the common effort of hiring staff and getting voters to turn out to the polls. But those funds cannot be used in the most direct parts of running a campaign, like buying television ads or hiring staff that report to the campaign manager.
Trump has raised USD 244 million through joint fundraising committees with the national parties, of which he got USD 71 million.
By comparison, Clinton has raised USD 415 million through joint fundraisers, of which USD 117 million went to her campaign.
With less than 10 days (at the time of writing) until the election, it is too late for Trump to amass the amount of cash he would need to unleash a spending assault that might turn his hobbled campaign around. Through the end of September, Trump raised a total of USD 163 million - a far cry from Clinton’s USD 449 million.
Clearly, Hillary Clinton continues to dominate the money race!
(Disclaimer: All figures are sourced from Reuters)