Why Won't Mitt Romney Release His Bundlers?

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Karl Rove, the main strategist behind the outside spending juggernaut American Crossroads, will speak at a donor retreat for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign this weekend. Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), the chairman of the outside group American Action Network, also has a speaking role.

Campaigns and outside groups aren’t allowed to coordinate with each other, but here we have the leader of one of the largest outside spenders hobnobbing with the campaign and its funders.

This is just another example that outside groups doing independent expenditures are neither outside nor independent. They are an appendage of the campaign designed to circumvent contribution limits and will, in the words of Sen. John McCain, lead to corruption and scandal.

Moreover, we have no idea who the donors attending the event are because the Romney campaign has refused to release its bundlers.

Romney and his senior aides will have "two days of policy sessions and campaign strategy discussions at a Deer Valley [Utah] resort for more than 100 top fundraisers and their spouses.”

ABC News reported that one senior adviser hopes these bundlers will each raise $1 million.

One million dollars. That’s 200 times the maximum amount individuals can contribute directly to the campaign, and we have no idea who they are. President Obama has made his bundlers public. So did John McCain. President George W. Bush did too. But the Romney campaign refuses to follow suit--and they’ve provided no good excuses as to why they are being so secretive.

Mitt Romney should release the names of his bundlers.

It’s these people who have gathered hundreds of thousands of dollars that have the real ear of Romney and his advisers. They’re the people that’ll get ambassadorships in a Romney administration, meetings at the White House, and other perks.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that, “Donors, many of them from the business world, are kept in the loop with weekly conference calls and special access to campaign strategists.”

According to a Romney campaign document, people who bundle $500,000 or more receive:

  • Access to convention, debates, election night party,
  • "Dedicated” Romney campaign staffer
  • Weekly briefings
  • This weekend’s retreat and one in the fall.

Donors who bundle $250,000 or more get similar access.

Congress, the FEC, and the Supreme Court have made a mockery of our campaign finance system. In the current environment, disclosure is one tool that’s left to let the American people know who is trying to buy influence with politicians. The Romney campaign isn’t required by law to release these bundlers, but it’s the right thing to do.

At every campaign stop, press conference, or editorial board meeting, Romney and his campaign should be asked about his bundlers and when they plan on releasing the list. If they continue stonewalling, it’s fair to ask: what are they afraid of?