Big Money Still, Well, Big

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Lest the stories about increased small-dollar donor participation in this year's Presidential contest have you thinking that big donor influence has been thwarted, the Washington Post has this front page story on the current poster candidate for small donors, who raises plenty of money the old-fashioned way.

Senator Barack Obama, who has made the best use of online tools in particular to raise donations in amounts below $200, has made his support for full public financing of elections known, but the rules of campaigning still apply:


But those with wealth and power also have played a critical role in creating Obama's record-breaking fundraising machine, and their generosity has earned them a prominent voice in shaping his campaign. Seventy-nine "bundlers," five of them billionaires, have tapped their personal networks to raise at least $200,000 each. They have helped the campaign recruit more than 27,000 donors to write checks for $2,300, the maximum allowed. Donors who have given more than $200 account for about half of Obama's total haul, which stands at nearly $240 million.

In addition to the concern this raises about the influence of a small group of big donors on the direction of a campaign, it also raises the importance of knowing more about the big bundlers for federal candidates, what their interests may be, and whether they're rewarded for their efforts in inappropriate ways.

Public Citizen tracks information on bundlers for Presidential candidates here, and to his credit Barack Obama has been more open than most in disclosing that kind of information from his campaign.