There is more and more news of candidates returning money from fundraisers with illicit pasts. You would think the presidential hopefuls would be persuaded to end the practice of allowing lobbyists to funnel money into their campaigns, but so far most have remained hooked on this bundled cash.
One key finding of our report is that the number of lobbyist-fundraisers for 2008 is fast approaching the number from the 2004 election cycle. The total number of lobbyist-fundraisers for the entire 2004 cycles was 136. As of today, based on the best data available (many campaigns have not been forthcoming with information on their fundraisers – Rudy Giuliani’s office, for example, has not responded to our requests for a list of his bundlers) there are already 92 federal lobbyists fundraising for presidential candidates.
With more than a year left in the 2008 season, there is reason to believe many more lobbyists will stake a claim on a candidate and bundle contributions to a campaign. So far, fewer than 30 percent of 2004 lobbyist-fundraisers have shown up on the 2008 candidates’ lists of fundraisers; most are still sitting on the sidelines waiting for a front runner to emerge (many likely see fundraising for a loser as a bad investment …).
At this point, John McCain and Hillary Clinton have
enlisted the most lobbyist-fundraisers, with 32 and 18 each,
respectively. Even those who say they have sworn off money from
lobbyists, like Barack Obama and John Edwards, have
accepted help from some who have been registered lobbyists in recent
years. Obama has seven such lobbyist-fundraisers and Edwards has one.
We searched back to the earliest lobbyist registration data available
online to find all of those who have been registered as federal
lobbyists at some time since 1998.
reported that “Eighty percent of Americans say that candidates for
president (generically) should refuse to accept campaign contributions
from Washington lobbyists.” Despite this, most of the candidates seem
more than happy to accept their money and continue to show little
interest in disclosing who is bundling campaign contributions for them.