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Candidates’ Disclosure Practices and Policies on Campaign Bundlers

July 26, 2007 – In the 2008 presidential campaign, all of the well-recognized top-tier presidential candidates pledged to disclose their bundlers.

But, as of today, none is even as forthcoming as George W. Bush and John Kerry were in 2004. And none is even coming close to providing a level of transparency that would allow the public to fully measure the influence of his or her bundlers.

In 2004, Bush provided the names and states residence of bundlers who raised $100,000 (called “Pioneers”) or $200,000 (“Rangers”). The information was displayed in an obvious place on his campaign Web site and appeared to be published promptly. Kerry provided lists of bundlers who raised at least $50,000 or $100,000.

The picture is – shockingly – far worse today. Public Citizen repeatedly asked all the candidates who are participating in the presidential debates a series of questions – by telephone, e-mail and regular mail – about bundler disclosure.

The candidates were asked:

  • Does their campaign disclose its bundlers’ identities to the public?
  • How can members of the public learn their bundlers’ identities?
  • What are the campaign’s fundraising thresholds for disclosing bundlers?
  • At what time intervals does the campaign disclose bundlers?
  • What details does the campaign provide about its bundlers, e.g., employer, occupation or city and state?
  • Does the campaign disclose the names of contributors from whom its bundlers raise money?

The amount of information disclosed is critical. Campaigns should, as a basic measure, disclose bundlers’ states of residence and employers. Without this information, many people with common names cannot be properly identified. For example, Public Citizen researchers were unable to attach employers or states of residence to nearly half of the nearly 1,700 bundlers for 2008 candidates identified as of July 25, 2007.

  • Only one 2008 candidate (Barack Obama) is spilling any beans about how much his bundlers raise (Obama bundlers are disclosed once they raise $50,000, the campaign told Public Citizen).
  • Only one candidate (Obama) discloses a complete list of bundlers in an obvious spot on his or her campaign Web site. All of the other top-tier candidates either disclose their bundlers on “hidden” Web pages for which no link appears to exist or disclose partial lists of bundlers on state-by-state Web sites. Public Citizen used Web crawling software to find these lists.
  • Only one candidate (Mitt Romney) discloses the employers of bundlers. The quality of Romney’s disclosure is diminished, however, because his campaign lists bundlers on separate state-by-state lists.
  • No candidate lists bundlers’ names and states of residence in a single, readily accessible location, let alone names, states and employers.
  • No candidate lists the names of contributors from whom bundlers raise money.

The candidates’ levels of transparency on bundlers are described below:

Joe Biden – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on Biden’s campaign Web site nor did the campaign respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries. Each of Biden’s bundlers identified as of July 25, 2007 was culled from press reports.

Sam Brownback – No bundlers’ identities could be found on Brownback’s campaign Web site nor did the campaign respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries. The site contains a link for a “National Finance Team,” which requires registration to access. Public Citizen attempted to register and then clicked the link several times from different computers and locations, but was unable to make the link work. Calls to Brownback’s campaign went unreturned.

Hillary Clinton – Bundlers are named on a single Web page, but Public Citizen was unable to find a link from elsewhere on Clinton’s site to the bundlers’ page. The page’s address was obtained by using Web crawling software. There is no disclosure of bundlers’ states of residence, employers, or amounts either raised or pledged to be raised. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries. [Update: After this fact sheet was published, Public Citizen was made aware of a blog item on Hillary Clinton's campaign Web site that provided a link to a page listing her bundlers. The blog stated that those listed on the page raised at least $100,000.]

Chris Dodd – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on Dodd’s campaign Web site nor did the campaign respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries. Each of Dodd’s bundlers identified as of July 25, 2007 was culled from press reports.

John Edwards – Bundlers are named on a single Web page, but Public Citizen was unable to find a link to the page from elsewhere on Edwards’ site. Public Citizen obtained the page’s address from the Edwards campaign. Edwards disclosed bundlers’ cities and states of residence but not their employers, or amounts either raised or pledged to be raised.

Jim Gilmore – The campaign told Public Citizen that the candidate believed strongly in disclosure but had no bundlers as of June 28. “The essence of campaign finance is disclosure. When we have something to disclose, we’ll be happy to,” campaign manager Dick Leggitt told Public Citizen. Gilmore ended his campaign about two weeks later.

Rudy Giuliani – Identities of some bundlers are disclosed in press releases. Campaign press releases typically provided bundlers’ states of residence. Additional names of bundlers have been the subject of news coverage. The campaign reveals the employers of some bundlers. The campaign has also disclosed the names of four people who pledged to raise $500,000 or more. It is not clear why the campaign decides to release certain names but not others. Public Citizen relied on both press reports and campaign news releases to obtain bundlers’ identities. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

Mike Gravel – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on campaign Web site nor did Public Citizen find other public information suggesting bundlers are being used. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

Mike Huckabee – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on Huckabee’s campaign Web site. Each of Huckabee’s bundlers identified as of July 25, 2007 was culled from press reports.

Duncan Hunter – The campaign told Public Citizen’s researchers that the candidate does not use bundlers.

Dennis Kucinich – The candidate told Public Citizen’s researchers that he does not use bundlers.

John McCain – Bundlers’ names are on state-by-state campaign Web sites, making their states of residence implicit. In most cases, McCain does not list bundlers’ employers. McCain does not list the amounts bundlers have raised or pledged to raise. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

Barack Obama – Bundlers are listed on an easily accessible Web page, without states of residence or their employers. Obama’s campaign told Public Citizen that it discloses bundlers’ names after they raise $50,000. No more specific information on the amount raised by bundlers is available.

Ron Paul – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on Paul’s campaign Web site nor did Public Citizen find information suggesting bundlers are being used. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

Bill Richardson – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on Richardson’s campaign Web site. Each of Richardson’s bundlers identified as of July 25, 2007 was culled from press reports. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

Mitt Romney – Bundlers are named in numerous press releases on state finance teams. Bundlers’ states of residence are implicit in the assigned state teams but Public Citizen found several instances in which Romney’s bundlers did not appear to live in the state assigned. Romney provides biographies for his bundlers which, in most instances, include employers. Romney does not list the amounts bundlers have raised or pledged to raise. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

Tom Tancredo – A spokeswoman for the campaign told Public Citizen that it does not disclose its fundraisers’ identities.

Fred Thompson – While he is a presumptive candidate, Thompson has not yet announced his candidacy. Each of Thompson’s bundlers identified as of July 25, 2007 was culled from press reports.

Tommy Thompson – No information about fundraisers or bundlers was found on campaign Web site. Each of Thompson’s bundlers identified as of July 25, 2007 was culled from press reports. The campaign did not respond to Public Citizen’s inquiries.

 

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