According to The Hill, only one political action committee (PAC) reported bundling campaign contributions for a political candidate during the first filing period for disclosed bundlers. The PAC of Gilead Sciences, a health care company, disclosed raising $17,500 for Rep. Henry Waxman’s PAC, LA PAC. It should come as no surprise that disclosure is virtually nil since the Federal Election Commission (FEC) eviscerated the bundling disclosure law when it implemented its regulations for disclosure.
In 2007, Congress passed a large ethics and lobbying reform package, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, containing disclosure requirements for lobbyists bundling campaign contributions for candidates. The law for bundling disclosure was not implemented immediately as the FEC, then dormant due to controversy surrounding appointments, was required to set out regulations for the filing of disclosure reports. When the FEC finally issued their regulations, they took knocked the wind out of the law.
The two major rules that they issued were:
- Candidates would have to show that, either, the lobbyist bundling contributions received a “benefit” — i.e. a honorary award, an autograph from the candidate — or the candidate must maintain a tracking system that gives credit to lobbyists bundling contributions for their campaign or PAC.
- Lobbyists who are co-hosting a fundraiser for a candidate can divide the amount raised between them, thus circumventing the $16,000 disclosure threshold. This division of raised contributions goes so far to allow co-hosting non-lobbyists to be alotted a portion of the total raised amount.
Both of these rules allow bundlers to easily evade disclosure requirments. The second of those rules was denounced by then-Sen. Barack Obama, an early supporter of bundling disclosure, before the FEC enacted it, when he said on the floor of the Senate, “In a situation where a fundraising event is co-hosted by a number of different lobbyists, I am concerned that some might want to avoid reporting bundled contributions by dividing up the total receipts of a fundraising event among many sponsors or co-hosts of the event. Certainly, that was not our intention.”
That was not their intention, but that is what the FEC enacted. And now we have one disclosure, despite bundling being a common form of fundraising in Washington.