Fundraising Makes Friends of Us All

The Republican presidential primary of 2000 featured a particularly vicious contest between Sen. John McCain and George W. Bush but when it comes to big money, all is forgiven. President Bush has sent his biggest donors and bundlers McCain's way now that McCain is the presumptive frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Good to know the same small group of incredibly wealthy and well-connected people will continue to enjoy special access to candidates for our nation's highest office.

As the same old players line up to play the same old game (better bet the same slate of big Democratic donors are back at the table too) the exchange of money for access continues:

The result is that highly connected, prosperous people like Mr. Reynolds are of huge value to a campaign because they can call on many other highly connected, prosperous people to write checks, which is particularly vital to Republicans in a year when Democrats have far outpaced them in fund-raising.

In 2004, contributors to Mr. Bush who collected $100,000 in checks, otherwise known as bundlers, were called Pioneers. Those who collected $200,000 were called Rangers, after the Texas baseball team once partly owned by Mr. Bush.


Mr. McCain’s advisers said that the senator’s campaign would also be bestowing titles on its most prolific fund-raisers under an “incentive system,” with privileges for those who raised the most money.

And on and on it will go until we get all the presidential candidates on the record pledging to move towards Clean Elections full public financing for candidates for Congress and the Presidency. Until we give candidates a way to mount a competitive bid for office without having to rely on the same small group of big donors we're not going to be able to effectively change the public debate on issues that matter. It's time to add more chairs around the policy making table -- and put average Americans in them.