More than a month after becoming his party's presumptive presidential nominee, Republican Mitt Romney has not publicly identified most of the fundraisers helping him collect the millions of dollars he needs to win the White House, even as he promises them special access perks.
Romney is not required by law to disclose the identities of his fundraisers with the exception of those who work as federal lobbyists.
Releasing the names of bundlers, however, has been standard in presidential campaigns for more than a decade.
Republican George W. Bush established the pattern in the 2000 election, revealing the names of fundraisers who collected at least $100,000. He repeated the practice in 2004. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee four years ago, had disclosed his fundraisers by this point in the 2008 campaign, releasing a list of 106 bundlers on April 18 of that year.
Romney's last serious challenger, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, ended his campaign April 10.
President Obama has released his fundraiser list every three months during this campaign. His most recent disclosure, in mid-April, identified more than 530 individuals and couples who have raised at least $106million. He reports their fundraising in broad ranges.
Lawyers and law-firm employees account for about one out of every four Obama fundraisers, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. The list also is sprinkled with famous names, including director Spike Lee and actress Eva Longoria.
These fundraisers, known as "bundlers" for their ability to bundle together contributions from family, friends and business associates, are crucial to campaigns racing to amass cash to pay their aides and fund ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Romney is seeking contributions of up to $75,800 per person to be split among his campaign and joint fundraising accounts with the Republican National Committee and several state parties. His campaign said those joint efforts brought in $40.1 million in April, nearly on par with the amount raised that month by Obama and the Democratic Party.
Campaign-finance watchdogs have pressed Romney to disclose his bundlers. "Should he be elected, these people will be first in line seeking benefits from the new administration and the public won't even know who these people are and whether they are being rewarded for their role in getting Romney elected," said Taylor Lincoln, research director at Public Citizen.
Romney campaign officials did not respond to several interview requests. Last year, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told USA TODAY that Romney discloses "the information about our donors as required by law."
Federal rules enacted after the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal require candidates to report fundraising by federal lobbyists. All together, 25 lobbyist-bundlers have collected more than $3 million for Romney's campaign, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Patrick Durkin, who lobbies on behalf of Barclays international banking firm, has raised the most, more than $927,000. He didn't return telephone calls.
A widely circulated campaign document shows Romney is offering perks to his biggest fundraisers, including access at the party's convention in Tampa, a weekend retreat in Park City, Utah, campaign briefings and a "dedicated Romney Victory Headquarters" staff member.
Bundlers who raise $250,000 will be Romney "Stars." Those who collect $500,000 join the "Stripes" category and earn additional benefits, including access to presidential debates.
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