Government Watchdog Groups Ask Presidential Candidates to Reveal More Bundler Information
WASHINGTON (March 13, 2012) — Nine government watchdog organizations today asked Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, as well as President Barack Obama, to reveal more details about fundraisers for their presidential campaigns who “bundle” contributions in amounts greatly exceeding what they’re permitted to contribute on their own.
The request for more transparency comes during Sunshine Week, and in the midst of an election season during which the candidates, party committees and outside groups are expected to spend more than ever before.
Bundlers, who are often corporate leaders, lobbyists or Wall Street executives, can funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars, potentially even millions, to a campaign, despite the fact that individually they can give only $2,500 to a candidate for the primary season and the same for the general election. Despite the tremendous influence these individuals can have in a campaign — and in an administration after the election — the law requires only that campaigns disclose the names of bundlers who are registered lobbyists. While the Obama campaign has voluntarily disclosed the names of its bundlers and a general range of how much each has raised, it would be far more meaningful if all candidates identified precise, cumulative amounts for all their bundlers, the groups wrote in letters to each candidate.
The letters were signed by the Campaign Finance Institute, Campaign Legal Center, Center for Responsive Politics, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters of the United States, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation and U.S. PIRG.
The nine groups ask the candidates to divulge not only the names of their bundlers — which Obama and Sen. John McCain, the Democratic and Republican nominees, did in 2008, and which Obama is doing again in the 2012 campaign — but to disclose the exact amount that each bundler raises for their official campaign committees as well as joint fundraising committees that benefit the campaigns. The groups also urge the candidates to release bundlers’ locations by city and state, and their occupations and employers — disclosure no more burdensome than what the Federal Election Commission requires for any donor contributing more than $200.
“We recognize that our organizations are asking you to share more information than the law requires of presidential candidates,” the letters say. “But it’s not more than the American public deserves to know.”