The 2012 GOP presidential candidates have declined to release the names of their top fundraisers, unlike President Barack Obama’s campaign and past Republican candidates.
“There has been no strong commitment from the current GOP candidates to ‘one up’ Obama” on transparency issues, says Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. That’s in part, she says, because the candidates don’t see it as a major issue with their constituency, in contrast to how the Obama campaign felt in 2008.
In previous election cycles, GOP presidential candidates disclosed the names of their big-money “bundlers.” For some, it was a source of pride. President George W. Bush famously installed a tiered system for his biggest fundraisers, dubbing them “Pioneers,” and “Rangers.” In 2008, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., followed suit by posting the names of his bundlers on his campaign site.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP frontrunner for this year’s nomination, released the names of his top 2008 donors, but not the amounts. He has yet to disclose even the names of his bundlers for the upcoming election.
Disclosure is threatening to become a political issue for Romney, however. Over the past two weeks, his Republican counterparts have criticized him for not releasing his tax returns, a tradition among presidential candidates. The Democratic National Committee has launched a video attacking him on the issue.
“Not only has Mitt Romney refused to follow precedent by declining to release his tax returns, but he has also steadfastly refused to disclose his major fundraisers even though presidential candidates from both parties, including Sen. McCain and President Bush, did so,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an email.
Romney set off a flurry of criticism Tuesday when he told reporters his tax rate was “probably” about 15 percent — a low figure for a man of his wealth. Romney’s money comes from earnings on investments, which are taxed at a lower rate than income. He hinted he may release his tax returns in April.
The Romney campaign did not return a request for comment for this story.
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