Aug. 8, 2007

Public Citizen Urges Presidential Candidates to Improve Disclosure of Bundlers

WASHINGTON, D.C. –    In open letters, Public Citizen today urged the presidential candidates who use campaign bundlers – donors who collect money on behalf of candidates – to disclose more information about the activities of these super-fundraisers. Public Citizen is collecting information about bundlers on its interactive Web site, www.WhiteHouseforSale.org.

The salience of campaign fundraising arrangements was highlighted by last weekend’s Yearly Kos Democratic presidential debate, where the candidates vied to claim the moral high ground on campaign finance practices. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) put Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on the spot regarding her decision to accept lobbyists’ contributions. Moreover, all of the Democratic candidates indicated their support for public funding of elections. Several noted that large corporations use donations to buy influence in Washington at the expense of average citizens.

As Public Citizen’s letters point out, however, none of the 2008 Democratic candidates is living up to the disclosure standards that George Bush, Howard Dean and John Kerry set in 2004. The Republican frontrunners have been even less forthcoming.

“The presidential hopefuls should put their mouths where their money is,” said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The candidates should lift the veil that is keeping details of their bundling operations secret.”

Public Citizen’s letters ask each candidate to take three simple steps to shed light on bundling:

  • Disclose their bundlers’ identities (including their cities and states of residence and the names of their employers) in a place on their campaign Web sites that will be easy for the public to find;
  • Disclose the amounts raised by each bundler using $50,000 increments or some similar threshold and promptly update such information each time a bundler’s fundraising exceeds the reported threshold; and
  • Disclose the identities of individuals from whom the bundlers raise money and the amounts they contributed.

Only two candidates (Obama and Clinton) provide any information about the amounts of money their bundlers have raised. A majority of the candidates have yet to list bundlers on their Web sites, and all the candidates are failing to disclose who their bundlers raised money from.

“Nearly all of the presidential candidates have vowed to be transparent about their bundlers,” MacCleery said “It’s time for them to act on their promises and let the sunlight in.”

READ the open letters sent to the candidates.

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