Jan. 4, 2006
Public Citizen Calls on President Bush to Provide a Full Accounting of the $100,000 or More Abramoff Raised for Bush’s 2004 Presidential Campaign
Abramoff’s Bush Fundraising Occurred at the Same Time the Lobbyist Was Engaged in Illegal Fraud and Corruption
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen called on President Bush today to provide a full accounting of the sources of the $100,000 or more that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff raised for his 2004 presidential campaign. The campaign gave Abramoff the title of a Bush “Pioneer” in 2004 for raising at least $100,000 in amounts of up to $2,000 from his friends and associates.
“Abramoff has now pleaded guilty to fraudulently raising hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars to curry favor in Washington,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “The public deserves to know if any tainted money ended up in the Bush campaign.”
Federal disclosure laws do not require individuals who raise, or “bundle,” a large number of separate contributions for political candidates to disclose their role in the fundraising unless they physically handle the checks. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns bestowed the title of “Pioneer” on those who raised at least $100,000 and “Ranger” on those who raised at least $200,000. Today the Republican National Committee announced that Bush’s campaign would donate the $2,000 that Abramoff, his wife and one of his tribal clients each contributed to the campaign ($6,000 total) to a charity. However, the campaign has not revealed the sources of the rest of the money Abramoff raised for it and has not announced any intention to return it or donate it to charity.
“President Bush needs to follow the lead of many members of Congress and reveal just how much money Abramoff raised for him and who that money came from,” said Clemente. “Congress also needs to pass fundamental lobbying reforms to clean up Washington.”
Public Citizen has proposed reforms to the lobbying system related to campaign fundraising, including:
- Prohibiting lobbyists from serving as the treasurers of officeholders’ campaign committees or leadership political action committees; and
- Prohibiting lobbyists from making, soliciting or arranging campaign contributions to those whom they lobby, except to members who represent the lobbyists’ own district.
If Congress is unwilling to stem the flow of lobbyist contributions, Public Citizen recommends the following reforms:
- Requiring lobbyists and lobbying firms to disclose their campaign contributions and the amount and dates of any campaign funds raised through fundraising events that the lobbyist or firm sponsored. This provision is contained in legislation recently introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), S. 2128, and Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), H.R. 4575; and,
- Requiring that the original source, conduit and amount of all contributions “bundled” by lobbyists and others be fully disclosed.