Obama third-quarter disclosure includes many ‘bundlers,’ cloaked in anonymity
President Obama and the Democratic National Committee flexed their fundraising muscle in the third quarter by raising a combined $70 million, according the disclosure reports. But a large amount of money, coming through so-called bundlers, leaves the original sources shrouded in mystery.
Bundlers are individuals connected to a political candidate who offer to collect money on the candidate’s behalf and then ‘bundle it’ together. They are usually the largest contributors to candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Campaigns are not required to disclose their bundlers, and in fact, none of the Republican candidates have publicly named their donors who are giving money on behalf of other contributors. President Obama has elected to disclose his bundlers.
“When you release this level of information, it invites scrutiny, and the campaigns are shy about letting the public see the influence peddling that goes on behind the scenes,” said Michael Beckel, spokesman for The Center for Responsive Politics. “We know that there are perks and incentives involved for bundlers. This can be as small as being able to have a face-to-face conversation with a candidate at an event, or you might end up with an ambasadorial appointment abroad.”
According to iWatch news, this is a departure from the 2008 presidential campaign, when all the major candidates released their bundler information.
President Obama received at least $55 million this year from his bundlers, and more than 40 bundlers each brought in over $500,000. The minimum donation from a bundler is $50,000.
In contrast, individual donations for the campaign averaged $56 per person. According to Obama for America, more than 606,027 people have donated individually.
Bundlers are just one part of a growing trend of organizations and individuals contributing to political campaigns on behalf of donors that prefer anonymity. Other organizations that fall under the 501(c) tax code, like Americans for Prosperity, co-founded by the infamous billionaire David Koch, are not held to any disclosure rules as long as their primary purpose isn’t political.