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Fundraisers open own wallets

Beer baron August Busch III gave $80,000 of his own money to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC set up by a former top Romney adviser. The contribution was equivalent to gathering the maximum campaign contribution from 32 friends.

Harold C. Simmons of Contran Corp., a McCain bundler, has given to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mr. Romney, Mr. Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota this year. But a $100,000 contribution to a super-PAC supporting Mr. Perry in June outweighed all of those contributions.

In a 1990s lawsuit that Mr. Simmons settled for $100 million, his daughters alleged that he used their names as conduits for contributions to politicians, but following a 2010 Supreme Court decision that led to the creation of super-PACs, such chicanery is not necessary.

Bundlers are successful fundraisers in part because they are making personal requests of members of their community, whether in the form of a memo distributed to colleagues at the top rung of a global organization or a face-to-face pitch at a country club dinner.

Instead of canvassing for nickels and dimes, candidates tap into the elites for not one, but many maximum contributions. The points of entry to those networks, the bundlers, are highly sought after and, from winning candidates, potentially richly rewarded.

No guarantee of success

Bundlers are savvy and politically informed, and they gravitate toward candidates they think are likely to win. They work behind the scenes, and their early labors can function effectively as seed money. But their support is no guarantee of success.

Mr. Pawlenty appears to have tapped an extensive bundler network, and maximum donations from a few could not keep his campaign from sputtering out. On April 13, a dozen Capital Group employees and their families gave the maximum to Mr. Pawlenty, totaling $32,500, an apparent response to a request sent around the world by a bundler connected to the firm.

On June 14, 10 people connected to the law offices of Sidley Austin LLP throughout the world gave thousands to Mr. Pawlenty, FEC documents show.

Sometimes, bundlers have to look no further than the family.

Over two days in April, Jeff, Sam and Greg Fox each donated to Restore our Future, totaling $200,000. Sam Fox is founder of Harbour Group, a multibillion-dollar investment firm. Two weeks later, six family members gave $25,000 to Free and Strong America PAC, a fundMr. Romney controls. On May 16, 11 Harbour employees, including three other family members, gave the maximum to the campaign itself.

Mr. Bush nominated Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium after he attained the status of Ranger in 2004, but was forced to withdraw the nomination over a donation by Mr. Fox to a controversial outside group, Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, which formed to campaign against Mr. Bush’s 2004 challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

Hedge their bets

It seems clear that for some, bundling is an exercise in milking existing connections to establish ones with incoming politicians, a phenomenon that is no clearer than when an executive raises money for both sides of a race.

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