An Ask They Can't Refuse

The presidential race is crowded and money is tight so candidates are relying more and more on their stable of bundlers and those bundlers are relying more on more on "sure thing" donors, i.e. the people they know just can't say no. What's compelling people who've never given a dime to a candidate to fork over $2,300 asks the Washington Post? A sudden passion for politics, or soft-pedaled coercion?

At last count, something like 17 Republicans and Democrats are running for President, so campaign cash is tougher to come by which means the well-connected bundlers upon whom candidates rely to rake in big checks are feeling the pressure to squeeze their Rolodexes dry. A sample script:

[OFFICE. ANYTOWN, USA.]

BOSS: Good morning. Listen I'm a big supporter of (insert candidate name here) and I'm raising money for his/her election bid.

EMPLOYEE: That's nice.

BOSS: Would you be interested in contributing...say...$2,300 or so?

EMPLOYEE: Ummm....

BOSS: Oh, by the way your annual review is coming up soon, right?

EMPLOYEE: Is a check OK?

 

[SCENE]

Exaggerated? Oh, perhaps. But consider these article excerpts on the first time donors asked by their employers to donate:


In interviews, several first-time donors said they were asked by their bosses to write checks, but almost all said they considered their contributions voluntary. Pedro Canas, a chauffeur employed by the private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners in San Francisco, said he made his $2,300 donation to McCain (R-Ariz.) after a company official called him.

"He asked me to help," Canas said. "I thought it would be a good idea. I thought, well, I could contribute."

Laraine Agren, a marketing executive in Penn Valley, Calif., said she gave $500 to Romney because she "liked what he did during the Olympics." She had never made a contribution before and might "have done it anyway," she said, "but the president of my company asked me to.

Does this make them campaign supporters, or supporters-under-duress? This isn't, as the article notes, a new phenomenon. But it is more widespread as campaigns become more expensive and is yet another symptom of an electoral environment in which a candidate's strength is predicated not on popular support or issue stance but on how much money they and their bundlers can raise by whatever means necessary.