NY Times editorial criticizing "bundlers" didn't mention Fabian

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

A New York Times editorial criticizing presidential candidates' use of "bundlers" stated that "Senator Hillary Clinton [D-NY] has been burned twice lately by so-called bundlers," and made apparent references to Clinton bundlers Norman Hsu and Sant Chatwal. The Times went on to note that "[o]ther candidates in both parties have been similarly embarrassed" but offered no further details and made no mention of Alan B. Fabian, a Maryland bundler for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign who was indicted last month on fraud and money laundering charges.

A September 5 New York Times editorial criticizing presidential candidates' use of "bundlers" -- fundraisers who solicit friends, family, and associates to make campaign contributions to specific candidates -- said that "Senator Hillary Clinton [D-NY] has been burned twice lately by so-called bundlers." The editorial noted specifically, "One Clinton bundler turned out to have an outstanding arrest warrant for business fraud; the other has a history of tax liens, fraud charges and bankruptcy proceedings on two continents," apparent references to Clinton bundlers Norman Hsu, the person with a warrant against him, and Sant Chatwal, who, according to a September 3 Washington Post report, "resolved the last" of the regulatory and tax charges against him "this spring." The Times went on to note that "[o]ther candidates in both parties have been similarly embarrassed" but offered no further details.

In fact, as the Times itself reported on August 31: "Mitt Romney's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination primary recently returned a $2,300 contribution from Alan B. Fabian, a Maryland bundler indicted on fraud and money laundering charges. The campaign has retained contributions Mr. Fabian solicited on its behalf." As Media Matters for America has previously documented, TV news outlets also focused on Hsu but did not discuss the 23-count indictment against Fabian, Romney's national finance committee co-chairman, which was unsealed August 9.

Furthermore, the Times criticized Clinton for her failure to co-sponsor legislation proposed by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) that would "mandate disclosure by individuals who bundle from $10,000 on up the campaign food chain." But the editorial did not note that Clinton discloses bundlers who raise at least $100,000 for her campaign, and that, according to the Internet archive, Clinton had disclosed the names of Hsu and Chatwal as bundlers at least by April 20.

From the September 5 New York Times editorial headlined "The Candidates' Tainted Money":

The presidential candidates' gross money marathon is leaving them increasingly open to shady backslappers securing privileged access with big bags of campaign cash on the barrelhead. Senator Hillary Clinton has been burned twice lately by so-called bundlers -- aspiring power brokers who harvest large amounts of smaller donations and bundle them into irresistibly giant packages. One Clinton bundler turned out to have an outstanding arrest warrant for business fraud; the other has a history of tax liens, fraud charges and bankruptcy proceedings on two continents.

Other candidates in both parties have been similarly embarrassed. And no wonder, as an estimated 2,000 bundlers now work the major campaigns like maître d's. Business executives pass the hat among underlings and family members for impressive scores. Trade and professional groups milk their memberships for big-ticket entry to the political circus.

For all their press releases promising watchfulness, the candidates have become increasingly addicted to bundlers. This is because Congress failed to update the public financing of campaigns, the alternative that worked well for the nation for three decades. Private fund-raising, deposed after the campaign corruption of Watergate, has retaken the throne, with the money hunt becoming more rampant as the campaign season lengthens. There is no process forcing disclosure of bundling so voters could better judge a candidate's donors. Sensing the growing risk of scandal, the campaigns have offered only half-hearted swipes at disclosure.

A good solution has been proposed by Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, who would mandate disclosure by individuals who bundle from $10,000 on up the campaign food chain. This is part of a plan to revive the public financing option by adjusting the subsidies to keep pace with the private fund-raising boom. Senator Barack Obama is a co-sponsor, but other major (i.e. well-moneyed) candidates, including Senator Clinton, are hesitating, despite their vows to change Washington. It would be a tragedy if it takes another Watergate scandal to prod today's candidates into demanding public financing as the antidote to the abusive power of bundlers.

Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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