Thursday, February 8, 2007
SEN. HILLARY Rodham Clinton had a party at her house the other night for an elite group: about 70 fundraisers who agreed to raise at least $250,000 -- and some as much as $1 million -- for her presidential campaign. That soiree and a meeting for lower-level fundraisers ($25,000 and up) prompts us to raise again the question that we couldn't get the Clinton campaign to answer the other day. What are the candidate's plans to release the names of her big bundlers? Will she meet the standard of disclosure set by President Bush and every 2004 Democratic presidential contender except John Edwards and make the fundraisers' identities available? So far -- though we've been putting this question to the Clinton campaign since last Friday by telephone and by e-mail -- we haven't gotten an answer.
Candidates are as indebted to big bundlers as they would be to big check-writers; the public deserves to know who's underwriting their campaigns. Disclosure of this sort should be a no-brainer. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has promised to release the names of his big bundlers. So has Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose campaign told us of his promise yesterday. But Mr. Edwards won't say anything except that he'll abide by the law; voters might ask how his refusal to identify big-money bundlers squares with his populist message. Meanwhile, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani haven't responded to our inquiries.
Ultimately, the Federal Election Commission or Congress should require disclosure of this information and not leave it up to the whim and goodwill of individual candidates. In the meantime, voters have every reason to be suspicious of those who would be president but don't want to be transparent about how they're going to collect the cash they need to reach the White House.