A group of watchdog groups are calling on presidential candidates to be more transparent with who is contributing to their campaigns.
The good governance groups believe that all presidential candidates should disclose regularly who the biggest fundraisers for their campaigns are. These people are typically referred to as “bundlers.”
There are rules set in place for how much individuals are able to make to a presidential campaign in a specific election cycle. That cap is $6,600 for each candidates — $3,300 that can be made during the primary election and another $3,300 that can be made during the general election.
However, bundlers get around this by tapping into very large networks that they have to collect donation amounts way above these limits. In exchange for doing all this hard work on behalf of presidential candidates, many of these bundlers received coveted appointments if the candidate they back ends up winning the election.
Currently, presidential candidates are under no obligation to reveal the names of the top fundraisers to their campaign, unless that individual is registered as a federal lobbyist and is active in doing so.
This means that in order for the public to know the identity of these individuals, candidates would have to disclose this information voluntarily.
The watchdog groups say that this obscures the money that is flowing into different presidential campaigns.
In a letter that the coalition sent to the remaining Republican and Democratic candidates — as well as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is an independent — they wrote:
“Government accountability depends on transparency in our campaign finance system, and that includes transparency about presidential campaign bundlers. Implementing a robust bundler transparency system that publicly displays information about all individuals who raise $50,000 or more for your campaign would help demonstrate your commitment to transparency as you seek your party’s presidential nomination.”
The letter was signed by 14 different organizations, including Take Back Our Republic Action, RepresentUs, Public Citizen, Project On Government Oversight, OpenSecrets, National Legal and Policy Center, Michigan Campaign Finance Network, League of Women Voters of the United States, Issue One, Democracy 21, Common Cause, Campaign Legal Center, Business for America and American Promise.
These organizations span the entire political spectrum, too. In October, they sent a similar letter to the candidates who were running for president at that time — which is a much larger list than it is now.
Many Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in the past have embraced disclosing this information voluntarily. This includes Republican candidate John McCain in 2008, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, and former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
In advance of the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris disclosed some of the information about campaign bundlers, but not all of it.
In September of this year, NBC News issued a report that Biden has four different “tiers” of bundlers who will receive different “sweeteners” based on how much they’re able to raise for his campaign this year.
Puck News has reported that Donald Trump has seven different bundling committees, with different tiers set up as well.