Where 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand Disclosing Big Dollar Bundlers

April 22, 2019 – Earlier this month, Issue One led a broad coalition of organizations calling on 2020 presidential campaigns to disclose their bundlers, individuals who often receive plum postings (such as ambassadorships) on behalf of their work delivering “bundled” contributions and currying favor with candidates for office.

From a new story by Editor & Senior Reporter Dave Levinthal today:

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The Center for Public Integrity asked all major 2020 presidential candidates the same questions about their bundlers:

  • Do you plan to publicly disclose the identities of all campaign bundlers?
  • If so, how frequently will you disclose them, and what details will you provide about the money they bundle?

Answers varied greatly.

The campaigns of the following presidential candidates did not respond to repeated requests for comment:

Meanwhile, the campaigns of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii both told the Center for Public Integrity they had no comment.

As for the candidates who would discuss their bundling practices, here’s what they said:

Sen. Kamala Harris of California:Harris will release bundlers’ names and where they live, spokesman Ian Sams said. “It will be a list of anyone who has raised more than $25,000 for the campaign and it’ll be published on our campaign website,” he said. Politico last week reported that Harris has so far attracted more support from Democrats who bundled money for Clinton and Obama than any other presidential candidate.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont: The Sanders campaign says it’s a bundler-free zone. For now. “We have not used bundlers, as you’ve defined them here, thus far, and at this time do not plan to use them,” Sanders spokeswoman Sarah Ford said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota: In a statement, Klobuchar’s campaign said it plans “to disclose bundlers, but we will be making more decisions with specifics in the coming weeks and months.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California: In an email, Swalwell said he “will publicly disclose, on a quarterly basis, the identities and bundling dollar figures of any campaign bundlers.” Swalwell’s campaign added that Swalwell doesn’t yet have any campaign bundlers but would publicly disclose the identities — including name, employers and occupation — of anyone who raised $50,000 or more during the Democratic presidential primary.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.: The Buttigieg campaign released to the Center for Public Integrity a list of 23 individuals or couples that it says have bundled for its campaign. The list includes prominent lobbyist Steve Elmendorf (recent clients include Goldman Sachs, AT&T, Verizon, Facebook and oil company BP), celebrity event planner Bryan Rafanelli and six members of the Pohlad family, one of the wealthiest in the nation. Buttigieg’s campaign didn’t disclose how much money these bundlers have so far bundled or explain how it will release bundler information going forward. “We will be transparent about it, but I will need to get back to you on the additional details,” Buttigieg spokeswoman Lis Smith said.

Author Marianne Williamson: “We do not have bundlers, nor do we anticipate having any in the primary,” Williamson spokeswoman Patricia Ewing said.

Businessman Andrew Yang: His campaign didn’t respond to the Center for Public Integrity’s request for comment. But  last week the campaign told bipartisan campaign finance reform organization Issue One that it has no bundlers, adding: “If that changes in the future, we will absolutely disclose that information. We feel transparency and reform in this area is very important.”

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hasn’t yet announced he’s running for president as an independent — something he’s strongly considering as he tours the country conducting campaign-style events — “so decisions on the fundraising front haven’t been made,” spokeswoman Erin McPike said.

Read the full story.

Issue One is the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington. We unite Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to increase transparency, strengthen ethics and accountability and reduce the role of big money in politics. Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus of more than 200 former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet officials is the largest bipartisan coalition of its kind ever assembled to advocate for solutions to fix our broken political system.