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Tag Archive: Bundling

Bundle Up

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Earlier today, the Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) and Public Citizen released an extensive study that found the majority of the bundlers and other fundraisers raising cash for the various 2008 presidential campaigns, over 2,000 individuals, come from only three segments of the U.S. economy: lawyers and law firms, three finance industries, and real estate. Among those industries, Republicans hold an edge in raising money from the real estate and lobbying industries. Democrats are receiving more funds from lawyers and law firms, as well as the entertainment industries. Democratic and Republican fundraisers appear to be doing a comparable job of raising cash from the securities and investment industry.

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Comments on Bundling Disclosure Now at the FEC

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Among the potentially meaningful and important changes to the law in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act is a provision that requires candidates for federal office to report the bundled contributions they receive from lobbyists. Bundled contributions are among the most insidious sources of campaign money because they give a single donor the opportunity to get credit for raising contributions that are often hundreds of times greater than the legal limits applied to individuals. The massive contributions no doubt result in greater access to elected officials. At Sunlight, we believe bundled contributions from any party-CEOs, non-lobbyist lawyers and law firms-should be publicly disclosed. But, the new law limits such disclosure to registered lobbyists, which at least begins to get to the heart of the problem.

The key to this well-intended provision is to ensure that when it is applied, it is not so full of loopholes that any lobbyist worth her $500 an hour fee finds a way to avoid reporting the bundled contributions she forwards to candidates. The Federal Election Commission has the responsibility of crafting regulations that carry out the intent of the new law. The FEC asked for public comment on its proposed rules, and made those comments available yesterday. The comments came from three Members of Congress, groups that champion ethics reform, and others who, for reasons of their own (or their clients) seem to want to keep bundled contributions hidden in the shadows.

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Bundlers

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Lisa Zagaroli, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, reports on the growing importance of bundlers in presidential campaign fundraising. These "mega-fundraisers" are very skilled at using their business and personal contacts to raise large amounts of campaign cash for a specific candidate. Only a few presidential candidates have released any information on who is doing the bundling but we know that the bundlers usually have super access to the candidates. No presidential campaign has released both the names of their bundlers and the amount each individual fundraiser has raised. Each campaign has adopted varying degrees of disclosure on who is raising their big bucks.

On October 30, Congressional Quarterly reported that Federal Election Commission is working on new bundling rules. One proposal, which came out of the Congress, is to only disclose the bundlers who are federal lobbyists. The McClatchy report indicates that the FEC is interested in going beyond this.

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Young Donors Max Out, Need Diapers Changed

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Competition among bundlers is getting so competitive that fundraisers are getting their children to chip in. These aren’t grown children by the way; these are toddlers, babies, and prepubescent children without incomes - unless of course they’re working as cockney bootblacks (“Straight shine’s a nickel; super buff’s a dime!”). The Washington Post reported yesterday on this effort by bundling donors using their children and nieces and nephews as ways of funneling ever more money into the coffers of their favored candidate.

Such campaign donations from young children would almost certainly run afoul of campaign finance regulations, several campaign lawyers said. But as bundlers seek to raise higher and higher sums for presidential contenders this year, the number who are turning to checks from underage givers appears to be on the rise.

"It's not difficult for a banker or a trial lawyer or a hedge fund manager to come up with $2,300, and they're often left wanting to do more," said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. "That's when they look across the dinner table at their children and see an opportunity."

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Diggin’ a Little Deeper

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Mike McIntire's front page story in the Times this morning put a little more meat on the bones of the Wall Street Journal story that outing Norman Hsu as a problematic political fundraiser (forget, for the moment, the fugitive on the lam piece of this tale.)

Here are some of the telling details:

The records show that Components Ltd., a company controlled by Mr. Hsu that has no obvious business purpose and appears to exist only on paper, has paid a total of more than $100,000 to at least nine people who made campaign contributions to Mrs. Clinton and others through Mr. Hsu....

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