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The Debate Heats Up on Bundlers

In this week’s CNN/YouTube debate, former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) took on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on the question of his bundlers. 

Here’s the exchange:

GRAVEL: We’re not united. I’m not united on many of their views. And I want to take on Barack Obama for a minute, who said he doesn’t take money from lobbyists. Well, he has 134 bundlers. Now, what does he think that is?

And, besides that, he has received money from a Robert Wolf, the head of the USB (sic) bank in the United States, who raised $195,000 — from this bank — wait a second — who has lobbyists in Washington…

COOPER: Your time is up.

GRAVEL: … and it’s a foreign-owned bank.

COOPER: Senator Obama, I’m going to have to let you respond.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

Well, the fact is I don’t take PAC money and I don’t take lobbyists’ money.

And the bundlers — the reason you know who is raising money for me, Mike, is because I have pushed through a law this past session to disclose that.
And that’s the kind of leadership that I’ve shown in the Senate.

That’s the kind of leadership that I showed when I was a state
legislator. And that’s the kind of leadership that I’ll show as president of the United States.

GRAVEL: Wait a minute…

I’ll have to sort this out later….

Kudos to Gravel for bringing some attention to the role that bundlers

play in presidential politics.  But what do we really know about


The truth is, until our release of the bundler site White House for Sale yesterday, it would have been extremely difficult for Gravel or anyone else without a team of researchers to say anything about any of the other candidates’ bundlers.  This information is not readily available because there is little disclosure required by law for bundlers, and also, this election’s batch of presidential contenders has been less than forthcoming.   

Gravel was able to talk about Obama’s bundlers because the Obama campaign posts bundlers’ names in an obvious place on its website (unlike most of the candidates).   All candidates should be required to disclose how much is being bundled for their campaigns and by whom.

Until we have better disclosure on the books, the bundlers for every candidate’s campaign should be carefully scrutinized (our new website, White House for Sale will help).  I hope that bloggers and others will help us dog the candidates until they tell us more.

Check out our guide to bird-dogging the candidates for real answers.