Unmasking the Bundlers

| Mon May 21, 2012 9:11 AM EDT

The Obama campaign discloses its "bundlers," that is, fundraisers who help the campaign collect large amounts of money from many different donors. The Romney campaign doesn't. As my colleague Andrew Kroll reports, that work is left outside watchdog groups like the Public Campaign Action Fund that try to figure out who is raising money for Romney:

A new analysis by the Public Campaign Action Fund finds that at least 25 lobbyists have bundled $3,065,126 for Romney's campaign. Those lobbyists including Patrick Durkin of Barclay's Financial who's bundled $927,160, Ignacio Sanchez of the powerful law firm DLA Piper who's bundled $84,200, and Bruce Gates of tobacco company Altria Client Services who's bundled $27,500.

As Public Campaign's Adam Smith notes, two of Romney's bundlers have reached the campaign's "Stars" level and one has reached the "Stripes" level. That's Romney campaign lingo (PDF) for the two most elite levels for fundraisers, each of which give the fundraiser inside access to the campaign, an invitation to a June Romney finance committee retreat in Park City, Utah, and VIP access at the GOP convention this summer.

This seems a gaping hole in campaign finance law that ought to be fixed and made compulsory. The Obama campaign has already returned more than $200,000 in donations from two brothers of a fugitive who was convicted on fraud and drug charges, and as Kroll points out, several Obama bundlers have been identified as unofficial lobbyists. It's possible that none of that would have been disclosed without the Obama campaign willingly releasing the names of its bundlers. Yet Romney still refuses to release the names of his most important fundraisers. It seems rather strange that this isn't a bigger deal. 

Adam Serwer is filling in while Kevin is on vacation.

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