Getting Their Bundles Under the Radar

In this update: 1. Bundlers get around donation limits, public disclosure 2. Creeping politics at the DNR Getting Their Bundles Under the Radar

Email date: 9/10/13

In this update:
1. Bundlers get around donation limits, public disclosure
2. Creeping politics at the DNR

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Bundlers get around donation limits, public disclosure
A new Democracy Campaign report shows that election campaign giving by check-bundling operations called conduits is soaring, and for good reason.

Conduits offer several advantages to both the special interest groups that run them and their donors. The size of political donations by traditional political action committees (PACs) are limited by law, while conduits can give as much as they want. And PAC contributions carry the mark of the beast. It is clear what group is behind them. Conduits collect money from their backers, pool the funds, and then make a large contribution to a candidate. But the candidate’s campaign does not report the sizeable gift from the interest group’s committee, but rather reports the money as a collection of separate donations from individuals. The group that actually wrote the check is masked and the money is effectively laundered, with the taint of special interest involvement kept out of the public’s sight.

No wonder conduits are growing in popularity among powerful interests aiming to influence elections. The Democracy Campaign digs deeper than the candidates’ campaign finance reports in order to unearth the true origins of this fast-growing source of political funding. Today’s report identifies the groups behind these bundled donations. For more discussion of our findings, check out our latest podcast.

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Creeping politics at the DNR
Two recent decisions create the appearance of growing influence of partisan politics in the state Department of Natural Resources. One looked so bad that the governor had to step in and put a stop to it. The other decision continues to stand, for now, despite making no financial or programmatic sense and having all the appearances of politically inspired retaliation against a forceful advocate of resource protection and frequent critic of DNR management.