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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
Two new reports shine light on waste, corruption and the buying of influence in Washington.
Earlier this week, U.S. PIRG released a report showing how the federal government continues to waste tens of billions in the process of outsourcing work to private companies. "Forgiving Fraud And Failure: Profiles In Federal Contracting" reports on how the feds continue to work with companies that did shoddy work and or were found to have committed fraud.
Last year, the federal government spent $422 billion outsourcing work to private companies, a 100 percent increase since 2000, all with precious little oversight. U.S. PIRG reports that loose rules, lack of competition, and limited accountability are the problems. PIRG's suggestions: increase the disclosure of contract information; increasing competition among multiple bidders; and strengthening the screening of bad actors.
Our friends at POGO have been refining their "Federal Contractor Misconduct Database", a valuable tool for investigative journalists and citizens who want to see the rap sheets on companies our government hires. The fact that these contractors are also large campaign donors just rounds out the equation.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
It's not just because of the name that I like the idea behind this new report (actually, the first installment of a new report) from Public Citizen's Congress Watch: it brings together several kinds of information on members of Congress in one place. It lets users look at contribution totals to incumbents from lobbyists, PACs, donors who don't live in the member's home state, small (under $200) donors, as well information on the junkets that members and their staff have taken. It also provides nice summary data by state (here's New York, for example).Continue reading
Major findings include that lobbyists and their political action committees have given over $100 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress since 1998 and that the top 6 percent of lobbyists -- those giving a total of at least $10,000 each over eight years -- gave 83 percent of all the money. Nearly three-quarters of all registered lobbyists had given no campaign money above the limit of $200. Many of the top recipients of the money are on the appropriations committees. Thirty-six members of Congress have received a half-million dollars or more from lobbyists and their PACs since 1998. Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) have each received more than $1 million. Of the 36 members in the half-million dollar club, 21 are Republicans and 15 are Democrats.Continue reading