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Not all Obama bundlers are on his public list
Romney doesn’t release names
Question of the Day
President Obama’s campaign has left off its public list of “bundlers” at least 25 names its own finance team considers to be among their most valuable funders, including seven who live in foreign countries, a review of records by The Washington Times found.
In one case the campaign’s own internal documents listed Cynthia Stroum as bundling $400,000 this election cycle, yet she is not on the campaign’s official public list.
Mr. Obama tapped Ms. Stroum to be ambassador to Luxembourg after she raised half a million for his 2008 campaign. She resigned just before the release of an inspector general’s report that found that she was “aggressive, bullying, hostile, and intimidating” at the embassy.
The Times identified the 25 names by comparing a list the New York Times published Thursday of 325 top funders, which it gleaned from internal campaign documents, to the roster of 635 bundlers that the campaign has disclosed publicly.
The Obama website, which says it shows those who have gathered more than $50,000, covers money raised as of the end of June, while the internal document covers through the end of May.
Mr. Obama’s campaign said most of the names were left off the public bundlers list because they don’t meet the campaign’s definition. Many of them contributed generously from their own pockets, but didn’t raise the $50,000 from others that would qualify them as bundlers in the eyes of the campaign.
In one instance, Richard and Doreen Cahoon of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, were credited in the internal document with bringing $153,890 to the campaign, but most of that came from their own contributions of about $75,000 each.
Bundlers are usually wealthy individuals who, in addition to donating personally, also tap friends and business associates for donations, accumulating far more than any one person could legally give, and deliver it to the campaign in one big “bundle” with their name attached. Winning candidates often reward them with plum posts and frequent access.
“Who is more important than these bundlers? Would you rather know that a person’s maxed out at $5,000 or know who’s gathered half a million dollars?” asked Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors money in elections.
Listed in error
The Obama campaign said at least one name on the internal document was an error.
The documents obtained by the New York Times listed Elizabeth Birch, a prominent gay-rights activist, as having raised $446,450 over the 17 months ending in May.
But she was not on the public disclosure, and the campaign said she is responsible for only one-tenth that amount, which left her under the threshold to be listed on the website.
Ms. Birch said she is an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Obama, but is unsure how much she has raised.
“My emails go out to about 5,000 people and I send one every three or four months,” she said. “I’ve never been good at the counting part. I’m just not good at it.”
There is no legal requirement that candidates release lists of bundlers unless they are also federal lobbyists. But with the exception of Republican nominee Mitt Romney, every major candidate has voluntarily released a list in recent presidential elections. Mr. Romney did release a list in his failed 2008 bid.
“Our major volunteer fundraisers, as well as the ranges of contributions they raised, were previously made public because unlike Governor Romney, we disclose them on our website,” Adam Fetcher, the Obama campaign’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement.
Mrs. Krumholz criticized Mr. Romney’s reversal and said disclosure should be made mandatory, not left to individual campaigns that can decide who or what to post.
“We are wholly dependent on the campaigns to provide this information in a complete and timely way. It should be formalized into the campaign finance disclosure rules,” she said.
The finance VIPs living in foreign countries include Glen Fukushima, chairman of the Japanese division of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which has had testy relationships with major defense contractors and political players in the U.S. such as Boeing, and Robert “Skipp” Orr, a former president of Boeing Japan and 2008 bundler who Mr. Obama nominated as ambassador to the Asian Development Bank in 2010.
Also among them are Daniel Crosby, an international trade lawyer in Geneva, and Robert Keane, head of Paris-based Vistaprint, and his wife. Mr. Keane was a member of a committee that hosted a fundraiser in Paris featuring Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager.
Bundlers with controversial ties can be liabilities to a candidate, and Mr. Obama has in some cases stripped names from his list after controversies. Abake Assongba, who runs a nonprofit that ostensibly raises money for Africa, was listed as raising at least $50,000, but disappeared from the roster after she was accused of wire fraud and of using an email scam to steal money that was allegedly used to buy a luxury home.
The campaign also struck the name of Rojas Cardona, a Mexican businessman with Chicago ties, and returned contributions associated with him after it emerged that he was a fugitive and alleged attempted assassin.
But the majority of the 25 names appear to have uncontroversial and varied backgrounds.
On the lower end of the dollar scale, the group includes Eric and Andrew Dayton, sons of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. The list also includes Jimmy Kuhn, president of brokerage Newmark Knight Frank, who the internal documents said raised $75,000.
Repeat bundlers include Ned Lamont, chairman of telephone company Lamont Digital, who raised $204,730 for the Obama campaign in 2008 and has returned with $102,400 this year, according to the internal documents obtained by the New York Times, but not the public disclosures. He and his wife each gave $35,800 directly.
Disclosures from Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign show his name, as do 2004 records showing he bundled for the presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry that year.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at email@example.com.
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