Obama SuperPAC Push: What It Might Mean in NYC

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Obama campaign announced this week that it will encourage the president's supporters to give to the SuperPAC backing his reelection effort, and New York donors will be a prime target. A WNYC analysis of disclosure forms shows Romney's SuperPAC raised 44 times more than Obama's in New York last year.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actress Scarlett Johansson are hosting a glitzy fundraiser for President Barack Obama reelection campaign in the meatpacking district Tuesday night. But New York Democratic donors may be hearing from another set of fundraisers soon: the SuperPAC backing Obama's reelection effort. 

New Yorkers made up less than four percent of the SuperPAC's haul in 2011, according to documents released last month. By comparison,  Romney's SuperPAC raised a quarter of this money from New Yorkers. By comparison, Obama's campaign has raised slightly more from state residents than Romney's. 

Overall, Obama's SuperPAC raised a seventh of Romney's SuperPAC last year. Romney's is the most well-funded SuperPAC by far.   

And with both Republicans and Democrats now zealously soliciting unlimited political donations for their parallel presidential campaigns this year, it's an open question what these new big-dollar checks for political ads will mean less available money for other things — like charitable causes. 

"I think everybody in the charitable community knows that during a presidential campaign cycle, they may see less giving from their major donors," said Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors president Melissa Berman, who represents high-wealth clients on both sides of the political spectrum.

She said reallocating giving is standard during presidential campaigns, even though philanthropic giving has tax benefits and political donations do not. But it remains unclear how much unlimited SuperPAC fundraising will amplify that phenomenon. 

"We haven't heard anybody specifically say, I'm giving less to charity because I'm going to be putting a few million dollars into a SuperPAC," Berman said. "It's possible though, that that's going to affect how certain wealth holders make their decisions about their money this year.

Last year, though, was a banner year for high-dollar donations. The Journal of Philanthropy reported this week that the country's 50 largest donors gave 10.4 billion dollars, up $7 billion dollars from the year before.


More in:

Comments [2]


What seems a bit hypocritical to me is the fact that Obama pretends to be someone who calls for a more equal society but on the other hand he doesn't hesitate to join forces with the designers whose merchandise is normally unaffordable for ordinary people. I am a big fan of fashion as such and I admire our native designers Dean and Dan Caten from Toronto but I can't imagine that they would one day intervene into the presidential campaign in the same way as some US designers and celebrities did in this particular case.

Feb. 14 2012 04:46 AM
NABNYC from SoCal

I hope Republicans give big to Romney, because he's going to lose, and I love to see Republicans throw away their money.

U.S. elections are like watching the closing minutes on e-bay: corporation A offered more money to buy the seat in the white house; rich person B ups the bid. It's disgraceful.

The only real answer is for the citizens to cap the amount of spending allowed in any election, and bar businesses or corporations from participating. They don't get to vote, they shouldn't have any say in what goes on.

As far as Obama, he is caught in the same system as everyone else, which is a corrupt and disgraceful system. Nonetheless, his hypocrisy warrants special note. He supported the public financing laws until it became apparent he was going to out-raise everybody else, and then he dropped out and said "I've got more money, so I no longer favor limits on campaign spending." When he started the 2012 push, he had more money than anyone, could act above it all, but when Romney began to load up with wall street money Obama had a change of heart, and suddenly embraced the PAC. He is a hypocrite. Give to him or his PAC if you don't want the Republicans in the white house, but ask yourself why the democrats have refused to push for a radical change in this disgusting system of selling seats in government.

Here's an idea: cap the amount that can be spent; force TV to donate free time to any candidate equal to the time purchased by any other candidate or PAC; declare all contributions to be received on behalf of the public, seize everything above $100,000 and use it to fund social programs like education and medicare for all. Just to start.

Feb. 08 2012 12:34 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Country ®

Archive of It's A Free Country articles and posts. Visit the It's A Free Country Home Page for lots more.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at


Supported by