A light on big fundrais­ers

Can­di­dates should name bundlers and the amounts they raise.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

APOLLO, VOY­AGER, En­deav­our. These fa­mil­iar names no longer be­long only to space shut­tles: They’re also how Jeb Bush is cat­e­go­riz­ing his top donors in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race. We hope Mr. Bush will at­tach iden­ti­ties to those ti­tles and make them public, as he has promised. We also hope other can­di­dates who have not yet dis­closed their cam­paign bundlers will do the same.

Mr. Bush has pledged to re­lease the names of high-achiev­ing in­di­vid­ual fundrais­ers in Oc­to­ber at the third-quar­ter Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion dead­line. Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker has made the same prom­ise. That’s a big change from 2012, when no Repub­li­can can­di­date vol­un­teered any more in­for­ma­tion than the law re­quired, and a welcome one. On the Demo­cratic side, Hil­lary Clin­ton has al­ready re­leased the names of bundlers dubbed “Hill­blaz­ers” who have raised at least $100,000 for her cam­paign.

Can­di­dates such as Mr. Bush and Mr. Walker are right to fol­low Ms. Clin­ton’s lead. The rest of the pack should, too. Bundlers get huge perks for their fundrais­ing ef­forts — for many of Pres­i­dent Obama’s cam­paign sup­port­ers, even am­bas­sador­ships. The public de­serves to know who these fa­vored back­ers are and how much they are giv­ing.

In fact, even Ms. Clin­ton has not gone far enough. Though she has pro­vided a blan­ket list of bundlers who have raised more than $100,000, she has not bro­ken that list down by the amounts raised, as Mr. Obama did for do­na­tions above $50,000 in his two cam­paigns. Who is haul­ing more than $500,000 for Ms. Clin­ton? How about $1 mil­lion? We do not know. When asked, a cam­paign spokesman de­clined to pro­vide any an­swers.

It’s heart­en­ing that Mr. Bush and Mr. Walker — se­ri­ous con­tenders for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion — have made a move to­ward trans­parency, es­pe­cially when so many fell short last cy­cle. To­day, su­per PACs pack­age bil­lions of dol­lars for can­di­dates. Al­most ev­ery ma­jor can­di­date ex­cept Bernie San­ders has at least one as a backer. “Dark money” also streams into pres­i­den­tial and con­gres­sional races from non­profit cor­po­ra­tions that can do­nate un­lim­ited amounts with­out dis­clos­ing in­di­vid­ual con­trib­u­tors.

Re­cently, these is­sues might have over­shad­owed bundling on the na­tional stage, but in many ways it is as im­por­tant as ever. The FEC caps in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions at $2,700 for good rea­son: to limit any one per­son’s in­flu­ence on a race and pre­vent cor­rup­tion. Yet bundlers re­tain the abil­ity to ex­ert power and then reap the re­wards.

When Mr. Bush and Mr. Walker re­lease the names of their bundlers, they should do it right— with a low thresh­old for dis­clo­sure and a break­down of bundlers into brack­ets ac­cord­ing to gross amounts raised. Ms. Clin­ton should also go the ex­tra dis­tance. And those can­di­dates who have done noth­ing so far should move quickly.

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