LWVUS joined a broad cross-partisan coalition urging presidential candidates to disclose their big-money campaign fundraisers. These large-dollar donors, commonly referred to as bundlers, often raise thousands, even millions of dollars, to help raise fund necessary to wage competitive campaigns.
April 11, 2019
To Whom It May Concern:
As the first-quarter campaign finance filing deadline of 2019 approaches, we, the undersigned organizations, urge you to publicly disclose information about your campaign’s bundlers on a regular basis during the 2020 presidential election.
Presidential candidates have long utilized individuals known as “bundlers” to help raise the funds necessary to wage competitive campaigns, and it has long been a bipartisan tradition for candidates to voluntarily disclose information about their campaign bundlers.
By law, individual donors are prohibited from contributing more than $5,600 to a single presidential candidate’s campaign (with half of that sum going toward the primary election and half toward the general election). At the same time, many individuals solicit contributions to the candidates of their choice from their friends, social contacts, and business associates.
Individuals who take on this fundraising mantle are widely known as bundlers because they are credited for the “bundles” of money they help a campaign raise — sometimes literal bundles of checks or, more recently, electronic contributions.
Bundlers frequently raise vast sums of money for candidates, often hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, to curry favor with those candidates. Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, campaign bundlers have received plum postings, such as ambassadorships and positions on commissions.
Government accountability depends on transparency in our campaign finance system, and that includes transparency about presidential campaign bundlers. This voluntary practice has been routinely embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, including President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Senator John McCain, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Today, we call on you to implement a system to regularly and meaningfully disclose information about your campaign bundlers, ideally releasing this information in tandem with the upcoming
campaign finance reporting deadline with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and continuing to do so in connection with future FEC reporting deadlines throughout the entire 2020 election cycle.
Such disclosures should make it easy for the public and the press to identify the individuals who are raising large sums of money for your presidential campaign, including their city, state, and ZIP code of residence as well as their employer and occupation — details that all campaigns are already required to report to the FEC for their campaign donors.
These disclosures should also meaningfully provide information about how much money each bundler has raised for your presidential campaign, such as the exact aggregate amount they have raised to date, which can — and should — be regularly updated over the course of your campaign.
Furthermore, we request that all of this information be made available to the public on your campaign website in a format that can be easily searched, sorted, and downloaded. And we ask that if you succeed in winning your party's nomination, then you will also include the amounts of money your bundlers raise for the party in any subsequently released bundling totals, including funds they raise for any joint fundraising committees that benefit your campaign and any state or national party committees.
Your campaign is already required by law to regularly disclose detailed information about any federal lobbyists who bundle campaign contributions on its behalf. Implementing a robust bundler disclosure 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.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. Should you wish to discuss this issue further, we would be happy to share our perspective and expertise with you as you develop and implement a system to disclose information about your campaign bundlers.
Business for America
Campaign Legal Center
Center for Responsive Politics
League of Women Voters
National Institute on Money in Politics
National Legal and Policy Center
Open the Government
Project On Government Oversight
Take Back Our Republic