That business about his average donation being less than $100 sounds nice, but it's not true. Actually, both he and McCain have taken advantage of several loopholes in the campaign finance laws to score big money from the usual sources. As explained by the LAT, federal law caps direct donations to a presidential campaign at $4,600. But both campaigns have set up joint accounts with their respective parties that allow far larger contributions. Californians have given at least $30 million to the Obama Victory Fund, including $16 million last month, when the candidate held fundraisers in SF and L.A.
These events attracted numerous entrepreneurs and Hollywood stars, whose donations are reflected in recent disclosures. Howard Marks, chairman of Oaktree Capital Management in Los Angeles, donated $57,000, as did musician Herb Alpert. Others include actors Harrison Ford and George Clooney, who gave $30,800 each; Rob Reiner, who gave $33,100; and Jennifer Aniston, Larry David, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Renee Zellweger and several other Hollywood figures, who gave $28,500.
Marks is the billionaire investor with close ties to Sen. Charles Schumer and other top-draw Democrats. Obama tends to do better with lawyers; McCain with real estate types. Some of the checks going to both candidates, according to the NYT, are coming from the securities and investments industry, including executives at Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG. Ouch.