March 25, 2012

Two Mainers help raise a bundle for Obama

The Cape Elizabeth women are among a group of 444 people who deliver sizable campaign donations.

By Jonathan Riskind jriskind@mainetoday.com
Washington Bureau Chief

(Continued from page 1)

WHO ELSE IS A BUNDLER?

Prominent figures among President Obama's 444 volunteer fundraisers:

Gary Hirshberg, CEO, N.H.-based Stonyfield Farm

Jeffrey Katzenberg, movie producer

Eva Longoria, actress

Harvey Weinstein, movie producer

Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief, Vogue magazine

"If you get publicly identified by a presidential campaign (as a bundler) that means you are seen as a player and people recognize you as a player," said Meredith McGehee, policy director at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. "You get a lot of benefits. It is not a one-way street by any stretch of the imagination, and you get to play in that whole upper echelon of American politics."

But Jean Gulliver, co-chair of Maine Women for Obama and a member of the Obama for ME finance steering committee, said that no one in the Maine Obama campaign is tracking how much Porta or Harris or anyone else is raising because they're not "seeking professional advantage in any way, but are doing this because they believe it is what needs to be done."

She added that, "No one involved in our fundraising is saying Bonnie and Karen raised X dollars. No one knows and no one cares. We are all doing this together."

There is no legal requirement for presidential campaigns to release their lists of bundlers, unless they are registered lobbyists. Campaign bundlers also are distinct from outside Super PACs, those independent political action committees that can receive donations of unlimited amounts from individual contributors.

George W. Bush famously had his roster of Pioneers, who raised $100,000. In 2008, Republican John McCain divulged in broad ranges bundlers who raised more than $50,000, the same as Obama in 2008 and this year. But the 2012 GOP presidential candidates are refusing to disclose their full lists of bundlers.

What Obama's campaign doesn't divulge is precise, cumulative amounts for how much bundlers like Porta and Harris raise, and details about bundlers' occupations and employers. That's something campaign finance reform advocates want to see changed, and they have appealed to Obama and other presidential candidates to voluntarily release more information.

"It is in the public interest for the presidential candidates to develop more specific disclosure policies," said a coalition of groups, including the Center for Responsive Politics, the Campaign Legal Center and the Campaign Finance Institute, in a letter sent this month to Obama and the GOP candidates.

Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

jriskind@mainetoday.com

Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

 

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