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Watchdogs urge presidential candidates to disclose top campaign fundraisers

A coalition of good governance groups is calling on 2024 presidential candidates to routinely disclose their biggest campaign fundraisers, also known as “bundlers.”

Individual contributions to presidential campaigns are capped at $6,600 per candidate per election cycle — $3,300 each for the primary and general. But bundlers tap into their networks to organize and collect hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars for candidates, often receiving coveted presidential appointments in return.

Candidates are not legally required to disclose their roster of top campaign fundraisers unless the individual is an active registered federal lobbyist. Without voluntary disclosure, the opaque nature of bundling obscures the full picture of money flowing into presidential campaigns.

“Government accountability depends on transparency in our campaign finance system, and that includes transparency about presidential campaign bundlers,” the coalition wrote in a letter to each of the remaining Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, along with independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“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.”

Fourteen organizations across the political spectrum signed onto the letter: American Promise, Business for America, Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Issue One, League of Women Voters of the United States, Michigan Campaign Finance Network, National Legal and Policy Center, OpenSecrets, Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, RepresentUs, and Take Back Our Republic Action.

The group sent a similar letter to presidential candidates back in October.

Democrats and Republicans have embraced voluntary disclosure over the years, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

President Biden and Vice President Harris disclosed some information about their campaign bundlers ahead of the 2020 general election. NBC News reported in September that the Biden campaign has at least four tiers of bundlers who will receive “sweeteners” depending on how much money they raise for the 2024 campaign, including invitations to events with the president and vice president.

The Trump campaign has at least seven bundling committees, Puck News reported earlier this month, with tiers spanning the $15,000 “Trump Force” to the million-dollar “Ultra MAGA.”

The coalition called on the campaigns to disclose bundlers with the next campaign finance reporting deadline and in subsequent reports. Presidential candidates are expected to file their year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by Jan. 31.

Taylor Giorno previously worked for OpenSecrets.

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