A February 23 Los Angeles Times article, titled "Obama wags a finger at fundraising, but his other hand is out," falsely reported that Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) 2008 presidential campaign "won't use public funds." In fact, Obama's campaign has indicated that it will "consider" restricting itself to public funding during the general election if the Republican candidate also does so.
The article also suggested that there was a contrast between Obama's "repeated call[s] for limiting the role of money in politics" and the fact that he "left California this week with millions of dollars pledged to his campaign for the White House." In fact, the day before the article was published, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) had issued a draft advisory opinion approving Obama's request to "solicit and receive private contributions for the 2008 presidential general election while retaining the option of refunding the contributions and receiving public funds for the general election if he receives his party's nomination for President."
According to the FEC draft opinion:
Press reports indicate that certain candidates and potential candidates for the 2008 presidential election have decided that, if they become their parties' nominees, they will choose not to receive public funds in the general election but will, instead, fund their campaigns exclusively with private contributions within the confines of FECA [Federal Election Campaign Act]. [Obama's campaign] has begun soliciting contributions via the Obama Website, not only for the primary election but also for the general election. Nevertheless, if he receives the Democratic nomination for President, Senator Obama has represented that he will consider opting to receive public funds for his general election campaign if the Republican candidate agrees, or independently decides, to receive public funds.
The draft opinion said that Obama would be able to receive public funds for the general election if his campaign "(1) deposits and maintains all private contributions designated for the general election in a separate account, (2) refrains from using these contributions for any purpose, and (3) refunds the private contributions in full if he ultimately decides to receive public funds." The FEC is now accepting written public comments on its draft opinion and will issue a final opinion after a March 1 public hearing on the matter.
The Los Angeles Times article, however, simply reported that Obama "won't use public funds":
It is, Obama has said, "the original sin of everyone who's ever run for office -- myself included."
"In order to get elected, we need to raise vast sums of money by meeting and dealing with people who are disproportionately wealthy," he said in March 2006 as he urged passage of more restrictions on campaign money and lobbying -- a concept embraced by other Democrats in the race and some Republicans.
Obama is also advocating an overhaul of the tax-funded financing system of presidential campaigns. Like other major candidates, however, he won't use public funds -- because he would have to abide by spending caps considered too restrictive.