Obama raises $35M re-election funds from 244 campaign 'bundlers' since April

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Official portrait of Barack Obama
Image: Pete Souza.

According to figures voluntarily released Friday by the Barack Obama campaign for the 2012 US presidency, Obama's top donors raised at least $35 million since April of this year by giving the maximum for individuals and compiling contributions from associates. This quarter, Obama raised a total of $86 million jointly with the Democratic National Committee. He received $20 million from about 600 people who gave the maximum annual individual contribution of $35,800, of which $5,000 goes directly to the campaign.

The campaign released the names of the top 244 contributors called "bundlers", typically rich donors who give liberally and gather cash from friends and business contacts. The list of donors included two dozen, including Vogue chief editor Anna Wintour, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Comcast executive David L. Cohen, and former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine, who each raised at least $500,000.

Bundlers are the biggest players supporting a campaign ... They serve as aggregators of cash, a critical function to a successful fundraising operation.

—Dave Levinthal, Center for Responsive Politics

Although the campaign points out it has more than 550,000 donors, the list shows the hefty role played by these bundlers in Obama's fundraising. The campaign emphasizes that Obama refuses to accept money from political action committees or lobbyists in Washington.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama raised $76.5 million from 560 bundlers for his 2008 presidential run. "Bundlers are the biggest players supporting a campaign, well beyond just the folks who are maxing out their individual donations," said Dave Levinthal from the Center. "They serve as aggregators of cash, a critical function to a successful fundraising operation."

About 80 percent of Obama's biggest donors from his 2008 campaign, those that raised $500,000 or more, were appointed to what the White House calls "key administration posts," according to a report released Friday by The Center for Public Integrity. In that campaign, Obama had 47 bundlers who raised at least $500,000. He is already half way to reaching this number with the two dozen contributing from April through June, according to The Washington Post.

The White House denied that donations had anything to do with these appointments. According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, "The people who got those positions got them because of their credentials. They also happen to be donors in some cases. ... Being a supporter does not qualify you for a job or guarantee you a job, but it does not disqualify you."