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Bundlers in Limbo

Yesterday, Roll Call ($) pointed out that a hard-won ethics reform is languishing because the Federal Election Commission (FEC) remains without a quorum.  The political wrangling over the Commission – and downright stubbornness of the Republicans in their insistence on the appointment of Hans von Spakovsky has left candidates and lobbyists in limbo.

Public Citizen worked to pass the landmark lobbying and ethics reform bill last year in the wake of continual congressional scandals.  One of the benefits of this new law is that it requires federal candidates – running for Congress or the presidency – to disclose if lobbyists are “bundling” campaign contributions of their behalf.  The FEC is supposed to implement and enforce this new law, and they are out-of-commission (so to speak).

Roll Call quoted Taylor Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division:

The delay in implementing the rule is depriving the public of important information. It’s best the public knows as much as it can.  We’d rather have disclosure of all the bundlers, but lobbyists are the best place to start. By definition, they’re in business to ask the government for favors, so their contributions should be looked at the most skeptically.

So far, the presidential candidates have offered varying degrees of transparency on their bundlers.  But overall the information about who is bundling for them and how many bundles of cash they’ve received in this way has been very limited.   

John McCain has given some names, but he’s not saying how much each is gathering.  Hillary Clinton has listed bundlers who raise at least $100,000.  Barack Obama is offering more information by breaking down his bundlers into those who have raised $50,000, $100,000 or $250,000 for his campaign.   Still, this is hardly full disclosure from any of the candidates.  Voters deserve to know more about campaign fat cats.

It’s time for the Senate to end the stalemate on confirming commissioners to the FEC, before big industry lobbyists bankroll the entire election in the comfort of a darkened backroom.

Learn more about the presidential candidates and their bundlers at WhiteHouseForSale.org.

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