Federal Politics

Published — August 8, 2008 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Lining the pockets of McCain’s Reform Institute

Introduction

The Reform Institute — borne of John McCain’s failed 2000 presidential bid — was created as part of the senator’s efforts to clean up campaign finance. Ironically, it is now viewed by some as a fast-track ticket for well-heeled donors to spread their influence and earn McCain’s gratitude. Because unlike campaign contributions, donations to the Institute are unlimited and unregulated.

“He has his coat with a certain number of pockets . . . his campaign committee, his political action committee, the party committee,” explains Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit government watchdog (and a former managing editor here at the Center). “This is just one more pocket for special interests to put money in.”

We are a centrist think tank,” responds Chris Dreibelbis, the Institute’s communications and economic policy director. “The Institute does not endorse candidates for political office and does not engage in any electioneering activities.”

For a non-partisan think tank, though, the Reform Institute sure attracts a striking array of big-time contributors and bundlers for McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Of the 74 individuals, corporations, and foundations that donated more than $500 to the Institute, more than half of them — 42 — contributed to at least one of McCain’s “other pockets”: his presidential campaign, his Straight Talk America PAC, or the Republican National Committee.

The year after McCain resigned from his post as honorary chair of the Institute, he announced his presidential campaign’s exploratory committee. At the same time the Institute expanded its areas of interest to include energy and climate stewardship, homeland security, immigration reform, and economic policy — all key planks of McCain’s platform.

The Institute publicly discloses its donors on their website (which they are not legally required to do) grouped into ranges based on the size of their contribution, such as $500 to $4,999, $5,000 to $49,999, and $50,000 and above. Based on this list, the 42 “double donors” gave the Institute at least $304,500. They (and in some cases, their family members) also paid out $412,996 to McCain, his affiliated committees, or the RNC, often giving the full amount allowable under FEC regulations, according to information gathered from the Center for Responsive Politics. They additionally bundled between $750,000 and $1,600,000 for his presidential campaign. All of these figures represent money given in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

Among the notable names in the group: William Bloomfield, a campaign bundler who donated in the top threshold to the Institute. The Bloomfield family supplied McCain’s organizations with $158,300 themselves and between $250,000 and $500,000 in bundling money. A real estate magnate, Bloomfield is a California state co-chairman of the RNC’s 2008 Victory Finance Committee, which raises money to support McCain’s presidential campaign. The position seems to be a popular one among the Institute’s donors. Two other McCain bundlers and contributors to the think tank, David Pottruck and Greg Wendt, also serve as California co-chairs of the committee.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.