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Posted by on Feb 8, 2007 in Politics | 24 comments

Close the Bundling Loophole

Close the Bundling Loophole

It’s no secret that lobbyists currently hold fundraisers and direct gobs of cash to both candidates and elected officials. What is secret is just how much cash is collected by lobbyists. Currently, they collect or arrange for cash to be sent to federal officeholders, candidates, leadership PACs and party committees. This funneling of money is called “bundling,” and the Senate’s new bill requires disclosure of this money in its lobbying and ethics reform bill.

Members of the House of Representatives are drafting their reform bill now – and disclosure of “bundling” must be included in the bill.

A bundling disclosure provision is important because this information is vital for the public to understand the major role that lobbyists play in Congress and the White House. If the House does not include it, a huge loophole will be left open for lobbyists to influence (and possibly corrupt) Congress members.

Reps. Van Hollen and Meehan have introduced a bill that matches the bundling disclosure provision already passed by the Senate (H.R. 633). This is a good start and their bill should be incorporated into the comprehensive lobbying reform bill being drafted in the House. But they shouldn’t stop there.

Congress should, after the ethics and lobbying reform bill is enacted, move to require all candidates and party committees to be completely transparent. All the details of money being bundled for a campaign should be disclosed: showing who’s bundling whom – and how much is bestowed upon a candidate.

If you support this kind of transparency please go to the link above and let your representative know your opinion. Politics is the slow boring of hard boards but every turn is progress.

I also find it encouraging that Chris Van Hollen is the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which is in charge of recruiting candidates in the next election. Hopefully he will recruit candidates who are similarly inclined about reducing the influence of special interests on national policy.

UPDATE: In today’s NY times David Brooks writes despondently about how reasonable and open minded many of our Representatives are in private and how partisan they are in public. My personal take on this is the perversion of money to force obedience to dominate statesmanship. As I sort through all the controversial issues in today’s world I continually reduce the lack of pragmatical response to the corrupting influence of unlimited money in politics. For me the single most important change we can all make to putting the world on a healthy course is to ban contributions from Unions and Corporations while publicly financing elections. Let our representatives use their best judgment to collaborate on enduring solutions.