In an effort spearheaded by Issue One, 20 organizations from across the political spectrum today urged the campaigns of President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to publicly report information about their top campaign fundraisers — often referred to as “bundlers” — on a regular basis ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“Government accountability depends on transparency in our campaign finance system, and that includes transparency about presidential campaign bundlers. That’s why we are calling on you to implement a system to regularly and meaningfully disclose information about your campaign bundlers throughout the 2020 election cycle, ideally releasing this information in tandem with all upcoming Federal Election Commission reporting deadlines,” states the new letter.
Last month, CNN reported that the Trump campaign “counts more than 3,000 people as bundlers,” but added that there has been no public disclosure of these elite fundraisers’ identities. The same article stated that the Biden campaign identified approximately 230 bundlers in December who had each raised at least $25,000 — but noted that this list has not been updated since late last year.
“More and more money is flowing into presidential elections, yet, disturbingly, there is less and less transparency about the people helping both candidates raise mountains of campaign cash,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “It’s important for the public to have access to meaningful information about presidential campaign bundlers because these individuals often get special access, government contracts, and influential positions like ambassadorships.”
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. During campaigns, bundlers are also often rewarded with perks, including special access, gifts, and VIP tickets to campaign rallies and conference calls.
It has long been a bipartisan tradition for presidential candidates to voluntarily report information about their bundlers. Over the years, this transparency practice has been embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, including President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Senator John McCain, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump, however, broke with tradition in 2016 and did not release a list of his campaign bundlers. And this election, Biden has released less detailed information about his top fundraisers than either Obama or Clinton.
The letters sent today urged the Trump and Biden campaigns to demonstrate their commitment to transparency by implementing robust bundler disclosure systems that publicly display information about all individuals who raise $50,000 or more for their campaigns.
The letters specifically called for Trump and Biden to disclose the following information about each bundlers:
- Their name
- Their city, state, and ZIP code of residence
- Their employer and occupation
- The exact aggregate amount they’ve raised, including any money raised for joint fundraising committees that benefit the presidential campaign and state and national political party committees.
The Trump campaign currently coordinates some fundraising efforts with a joint fundraising committee called Trump Victory, which can accept contributions up to $580,600 per person. It benefits Trump’s campaign, the Republican National Committee, and Republican parties in 22 states.
Meanwhile, the Biden campaign currently coordinates some fundraising efforts with a joint fundraising committee called the Biden Victory Fund, which can accept contributions up to $620,600 per person. It benefits Biden’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Democratic parties in 26 states.
The new letters to the Trump and Biden campaigns also requested that information about campaign bundlers be made available in a format that could be easily searched, sorted, and downloaded from their campaign websites.
The 20 organizations that signed this new letter are as follows:
|Business for America||Michigan Campaign Finance Network|
|Campaign Legal Center||National Institute on Money in Politics|
|Center for Responsive Politics||National Legal and Policy Center|
|Common Cause||Open the Government|
|FixUS||Project On Government Oversight|
|Government Accountability Institute||Public Citizen|
|League of Women Voters||Sunlight Foundation|
|Liberty Coalition||Take Back Our Republic|