Advocacy groups call on presidential candidates to disclose bundlers
Sixteen advocacy groups, including some of the most influential players in the political reform movement, co-signed a letter Thursday urging 2020 presidential candidates to voluntarily disclose their top individual fundraisers, or "bundlers," during their campaign bids.
The letter asked the candidates to create a system to "regularly and meaningfully" disclose details about the campaign's bundlers — individuals who solicit and collect donations from others and then deliver those funds in a "bundle" to aid a candidate's campaign.
Bundlers who successfully pool large amounts of money from a network of well-heeled donors are often rewarded with desirable post-election appointments, such as ambassadorships.
Former presidents and presidential candidates from both parties, such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have voluntarily disclosed bundler details, Politico noted. During the 2016 election cycle, however, presidential candidates had "a mixed record of releasing bundler information."
"Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush released lists of their top fundraisers, though Clinton released less information about the people raising money for her campaign than Obama had. But others, including President Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, did not identify their bundlers," the article noted.
The letter asked the candidates to:
- Disclose bundler information in reports that coincide with regular Federal Election Commission reporting requirements.
- Provide the name, city, state and ZIP code of every bundler along with their employer and occupation — information that candidates must already provide for large donors.
- Update regularly the aggregate amount each bundler has raised for their campaign.
- Publish this information on their official website in a format that can be searched, sorted and downloaded.
The groups also requested that the eventual nominees include in subsequent reports how much bundlers raise for their party, as well as state and national party committees and joint fundraising committees that benefit the winning candidate.
The 16 advocacy groups that co-signed the letter include the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Represent.Us and Issue One. (The Firewall is being incubated by Issue One but remains journalistically independent.)
The Federal Election Commission has once again punted on establishing rules for identifying who is sponsoring online political advertisements. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive meeting in which the topic fell to the wayside without a clear path forward.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub revived debate on the topic in June when she introduced a proposal on how to regulate online political ads. In her proposal, she said the growing threat of misinformation meant that requiring transparency for political ads was "a small but necessary step."
Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter put forth their own proposal soon after Weintraub, but the commissioners have failed to find any middle ground. At Thursday's meeting, a decision on the agenda item was pushed off to a later date.
Weintraub's proposal says the funding source should be clearly visible on the face of the ad, with some allowance for abbreviations. But Petersen and Hunter want to allow more flexibility for tiny ads that cannot accommodate these disclaimers due to space.
The California Supreme Court is fast-tracking its review of a challenge to a new law that would require President Trump to make public his tax returns in order to get on the state's ballot for the 2020 election.
A lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the law was filed August 6 by the California Republican Party against Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It claims the law violates California's constitution.
Two other challenges, one filed by Trump's personal lawyers, are pending in federal court.