SEN. HILLARY Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has decided that her presidential campaign will reveal the identities of its major fundraisers, after all. This is welcome news for the conduct of the 2008 race, during which big bundlers -- the well-connected fundraisers who can help collect $100,000, $200,000 or even $1 million in donations -- will be more important than ever.
With Ms. Clinton's change of heart, the top-tier contenders of both parties -- Democrats Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, and Republicans John McCain, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney -- have agreed to identify their chief campaign underwriters. The Clinton campaign said she would release the names of her big bundlers at amounts such as $100,000 or $200,000. We trust that as those bundles swell in size -- the Clinton campaign has tasked its top fundraisers with bringing in $1 million or more -- the levels of disclosure will rise accordingly, for the Clinton campaign and its rivals. With more private money than ever being raised and spent, this information is critical to campaign finance disclosure.
But it makes no sense for such disclosure to be left to the whim or goodwill of individual campaigns; it should be required by law. The click of a mouse can summon a blizzard of campaign finance data. Yet the most critical information -- the identities of the true financiers of the campaigns and the amounts they have brought in -- remains obscure, available only if campaigns deign to provide it.
In 2008, it appears, most of them will. But it is a shaky campaign finance disclosure system that relies on the good sense of candidates. The law could easily be tweaked and tightened to require candidates to report the information they already possess.