Unmasking the Bundlers

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6355220839/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr/401k</a>

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.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.