Bundling, that is the practice of one donor gathering donations from many different individuals in an organization or community and presenting the sum to a campaign, is as popular as ever by the major presidential campaigns. The poster child for questionable bundling to 2008 campaign so far goes to the still highly suspect actions of Norman Hsu. Bundling has in past cycles raised concerns too. President Bush’s more infamous bundlers were Enron CEO Ken Lay and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Taylor Lincoln at Public Citizen’s Watchdog blog shows how this practice is fraught with potential scandal.
Thanks to Public Citizen and their new 2008 version of its White House for Sale databasee, it’s now easier than ever to track the big bundlers for each of the presidential candidates. It also allows you to determine which bundlers are lobbyists. "With bundlers playing a bigger role than ever before in this race, anticipated to cost at least $1 billion," writes Katie Schlieper for Public Campaign. As she said, this is a great tool to use to connect the dots between donors, candidates, and policy priorities.
Last month, when Congress passed ethics legislation (still waiting to be signed as I write) they included a provision that requires members of Congress to disclose the names of lobbyists who bundle contributions of more than $15,000 for them. It’s a start. But Congress should further regulate the practice. As Public Citizen proposes:
Once campaigns make an oral or written agreement designating a person as a fundraiser and provide the fundraiser with some form of tracking mechanism, the campaign should be required to disclose the details of that person’s fundraising success as part of the campaign’s filings with the Federal Election Commission. Disclosure reports on bundlers should contain the following:
- The name, address, occupation and employer of each bundler;
- Each contribution of more than $200 raised by the bundler;
- The original source and date of each contribution of more than $200 raised by the bundler; and
- Total contributions raised by the bundler for each reporting period.
This would open the books for all to see who raised large sums of campaign money for the candidate.