Why Biden is crowdfunding his White House transition

President-elect Joe Biden began crowdsourcing funds for his White House transition – by sending out an appeal on Friday for donations.

Usually, a presidential transition would be largely taxpayer funded, but that money cannot be released until General Services Administration (GSA) chief Emily Murphy officially “verifies” that Biden won. the election. Although the election was called for Biden by all of the mainstream media – and despite key states having started to certify his victories – Murphy refused to do so.

Biden nevertheless began the transition process, hiring and onboarding staff, as well as setting up meetings with key groups, such as pharmaceutical companies who work on coronavirus vaccines.

To help fund this effort, Biden sent a fundraising email and tweeted that members of the public could donate to his bridging funds on Friday, saying he was obligated to do so because the president Donald Trump constantly challenges the election result. delays the transition. “

White House officials have refuted Biden’s claim, saying the president did not ask Murphy to postpone the verification. But House Democrats dismissed the claim and demanded Murphy give them a full explanation for the delay by Monday. An anonymous administration official told the Washington post that the reason for the delay is very simple: “No head of agency is going to appear before the president on transition issues for the moment.”

Biden raised $ 10million for his transition – but hopes for several million more

The transition process and general structure are governed by the 1963 presidential transition law. This law calls for the use of public funds and gives the GSA responsibility for its execution.

Beyond creating a budget for hiring staff, a GSA audit would give Biden funds to complete agency reviews, office space for transition managers and, critically. , would allow members of the transition team to meet with their counterparts in the Trump administration. Biden’s team worked to find ways around this lack of access – and the crowdfunding campaign is their solution to the fundraising problem.

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As reported by PoliticoDemocratic National Committee finance chairman Chris Korge wrote to donors on Monday, saying “over $ 8 million in cash and in-kind” was pending without GSA verification.

“We need to collect the rest of the money we need before Thanksgiving so that we can focus totally on the transition and not on fundraising,” Korge wrote.

This new grassroots push could be part of this effort to close the gap by the end of the month, although Biden’s camp has already raised more than what Trump and Hillary Clinton raised for their own transition teams. potential in 2016.

Privately, Camp Biden raised funds for a potential transition starting in June, and has would have has already raised $ 10 million. According to Politico, Trump raised $ 6.5 million in 2016 and Hillary Clinton raised about $ 2.1 million; and Mitt Romney raised $ 8.9 million in 2012. Barack Obama raised about $ 6.8 million In 2008.

It has become common for new presidents to supplement the funding of the GSA with their own fundraising; Obama, for example, relied on about $ 6.8 million in private funds and received about $ 5.2 million from taxpayers for his transition.

At the time, experts called on Congress to increase the funds available for elected presidents; Meredith McGehee, then policy director at the Non-Partisan Campaign Funding Center, called Obama’s need to fundraise “a problem.” Politico, “If public money is not enough, it must be increased.”

Biden is expected to receive more than Obama, but for now, his team are said to be pessimistic that any government funding will be made available before he takes office. Although Biden is expected to receive 306 electoral college votes, Trump refused to concede the election. His campaign and other allies have launched dozens of court challenges in counties and battlefield states across the country, at least 30 of which have so far been dropped or dismissed.

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Meanwhile, some voters, including a majority of Republican voters, said allegations of voter fraud caused them to question Joe Biden’s victory. These allegations are unfounded, but low confidence in the integrity of the election could motivate permanent challenges to its outcome.

With federal funds in limbo, major Democratic donors were reportedly asked to donate to the transition team in addition to the general crowdfunding effort. According to Federal Election Commission, the limit for large transition donations is $ 5,000, and this money can be used for all “transition expenses.” While the transition is legally allowed to accept money from groups like PACS and companies, Biden has vowed not to accept funds from either.

Biden also tries to bypass his lack of access to intelligence and officials

Representatives of the transition team did not respond to Vox’s request for comment on the GSA delay. But a transition official has previously said the team has not ruled out legal challenges and is looking at various eventualities.

“The Biden-Harris transition has been planning every possible scenario for months,” the official said. according to CNN. “The nation faces too many challenges not to have a fully funded and smooth transition to prepare the president-elect and vice-president-elect to rule on day one.”

Officials have explained what a truncated transition period could mean. For example, Jen Kirby of Vox reported that some former national security officials noted that “the September 11 Commission The report found that [former President George W.] Bush’s truncated transition period in 2000 “hampered” the administration from placing key personnel in national security posts and securing Senate confirmation.

And Kirby also notes that the robust transition from Bush to Obama may have helped avert a planned “credible” terrorist attack around Obama’s inauguration.

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And the issues go beyond national security: for example, health officials have also urged the GSA to start the transition, warning that a delay could jeopardize the preparations necessary to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and possibly distribute a vaccine.

Biden tried to bypass his lack of access to key information and administrative figures – for example, he arranged a meeting with former intelligence officials to compensate for not having received any official briefing from presidential intelligence. And he recently held meetings with heads of state on how to better coordinate the federal and state Covid-19 response.

Although creative, these measures are however not considered as good as official access. And if Biden doesn’t get a verification, he’ll start his presidency less prepared than he could have been.