Archive for the '“Bundling”' Category


October 8, 2015
posted by Bob Bauer

Fred Wertheimer remains indignant about Citizens United and he certainly comes by this view honestly.  He has been strongly for campaign finance regulation since the 1970s and had a hand in lobbying its successful passage in the first place.  It is not surprising that he is very distressed by the watered-down definition of corruption articulated by the Court first in Citizens United and then with more clarity and emphasis in the “we-mean-what-we-said” restatement in McCutcheon.

Wertheimer says in this new piece what he has said before about “legalized bribery” being the product of the Court’s fecklessness and naiveté.  This charge is familiar, and some object that it is tired and unproductive, but Wertheimer adds to this complaint another: that the decision unleashed “political chaos”.

A strength of any reform discussion is careful attention to the role of campaign finance in lobbying activity. Critics of standard reform proposals complain that “insiders” are attempting to regulate the political activity of “outsiders”, but this objection has less force when campaign finance restrictions fall more heavily on the insiders – – on legislators and the lobbyists who may build relationships with them by raising and giving campaign money.

So Senator Michael Bennet, supported by the reform community, has developed a bill entitled the Lobbying and Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2015, which pursues reform objectives from the "inside." It would expand the number of those who are required to register as lobbyists, and it would limit the influence they amass through the fundraising known as bundling. And the Members of Congress that they lobby could not solicit them for contributions when Congress is in legislative session. The focus here is on campaign finance as a lubricant of successful lobbying, and on any temptation in official circles to link the performance of the public’s business to campaign support.

The next question is-- how would this reform, if enacted, work, and how effective would it be in meeting the goals set for it?