Politics & Government

Presidential candidates collect millions, but don't say from whom

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns have failed to update their Web-posted lists of top fundraisers since January, although the two Democrats have received at least $180 million in donations in the first three months of this year.

Last year, both campaigns voluntarily began disclosing the names of their "bundlers," supporters who collect campaign checks surpassing such thresholds as $50,000 or $100,000.

But despite the aggressive fundraising during this peak primary season, no new names have been added.

Spokesmen for both the Obama and Clinton campaigns said they have a policy of identifying bundlers on a quarterly basis and that the next updates will be issued shortly after each campaign files its March fundraising report, due to the Federal Election Commission by Sunday.

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political science professor who tracks campaign fundraising, said he thinks the two camps have delayed releasing more names to avoid adverse publicity at a crucial point in the race. Both campaigns, but especially Clinton's, have been hit with news reports critical of some of the major fundraisers who've been identified.

``If the information were innocuous, they would have released it,'' said Sabato, who said he suspects that ``there are conflicts of interest involved.''

``Many of these fundraisers want things from the candidates if they're elected president,'' he said. ``That's why they spend all this time and effort.''

Release of the lists on Sunday or Monday would allow little time for scrutiny of bundlers' backgrounds before Tuesday's key Pennsylvania primary.

Clinton has raised the bulk of the $168 million she's disclosed to date from large donors. She's disclosed $48 million since January.

(The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the Clinton campaign collected $20 million more in March.)

To date, her campaign has listed 311 ``Hillraisers'' who each raised at least $100,000, although it's difficult to locate the list on the Clinton for President Web site without the campaign's help.

Clinton already has had to contend with embarrassing publicity about two of her top fundraisers, both of whom were facing criminal charges.

Chinese bundler Norman Hsu was collecting funds for Clinton while he was a fugitive on federal charges that he bilked investors of $20 million and strong-armed them into making campaign donations. The Clinton campaign announced last September that it was returning $850,000 that Hsu raised.

On April 4, McClatchy reported that Texas oilman Kase Lawal, who hosted a fundraiser at his home last August that raised more than $100,000 for Clinton, was charged in his native Nigeria with illegally pumping and selling10 million barrels of oil. The Clinton campaign has yet to say whether it will return any of those donations.

Obama's campaign, which touts its transparency, has posted the names of 359 top fundraisers, grouped by those who raised more than $50,000, $100,000 to $200,000 and more than $200,000. Its list of large fundraisers is posted at the end of a section of the Web site that asks and answers 123 questions about the campaign.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt stressed that 91 percent of Obama's money has come from Internet donations of less than $200. So far this year, Obama has reported collecting $91 million. LaBolt said he raised $40 million more in March.

The New York Times reported in early February about the roles of Obama fundraisers Frank Clark and John Rogers, two top officials of Xelon Corp., Illinois' largest electric utility and nuclear power plant operator. In 2006, after the company resisted the senator's push for legislation to require nuclear power plants to disclose even the smallest radioactive leak promptly, Obama weakened his bill, which later died, the paper said.

Obama's campaign credits Clark and Rogers with each raising more than $200,000.

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who raised $64.6 million through February, also has yet to list any of his fundraisers. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Wednesday that the campaign has begun to recruit volunteers to solicit large donations. Disclosures will follow, he said.

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