“In my view, who does the asking doesn’t matter much. What counts is who is writing the big checks,’’ McLane said.
To be sure, some of the biggest checks are going to the super PACS, which have no limits. The Romney-supporting group Restore Our Future has garnered $10 million from Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson, and donations from numerous locals like McLane, Fireman, and Reynolds.
The group Priorities USA Action , which supports Obama’s reelection bid, counts among its top donors film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, at $2 million. Locally, it has drawn $250,000 from Weston entrepreneur Paul Egerman, founder of the technology company eScription, and $100,000 from Maynard biotech executive Reinier Beeuwkes.
Some super PAC donors are bundlers, too, but not always. Republican nominee John McCain disclosed his bundlers in 2008, as did Bush in the prior two elections. In fact, the Bush campaign raised the profile of bundlers by giving them names based on their level of giving: Pioneers raised $100,000 or more; Rangers raised twice that. Super Rangers raised even more.
Obama’s bundlers so far have provided $143 million in total to the campaign and to the Democratic National Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. As Romney discloses only the lobbyists who are bundlers, his number appears much lower, at $5.3 million.
But the real number is almost certainly much closer to Obama’s, according to campaign finance specialists. The Romney campaign brought in $111.6 million in August’s rush of political fund-raising, edged out slightly by Obama’s $114 million. Much of that came from individual giving, but bundlers also played a role.
The rewards for bundlers come with both parties. Locally, philanthropist Elaine Schuster, a big Obama supporter, was named a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In the Bush years, EMC Corp. founder Richard Egan, a major fund-raiser, was named ambassador to Ireland.
The Obama campaign has tried to pressure Romney to release the names of his bundlers, to no avail. Obama campaign spokesman Michael Czin said, “President Obama has brought unprecedented openness and transparency to the campaign trail and the White House while Mitt Romney is running one of the most secretive presidential campaigns in memory.”
Connors, the Boston power broker and retired advertising executive who is an Obama bundler, called Romney’s refusal to release his major fund-raisers disappointing, adding, “just like I think it’s disappointing he doesn’t release his taxes.”
Asked whether Romney was out of step with his own party’s precedent on disclosure, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee said it’s a decision that’s up to each candidate. Romney complies with the law, reiterated RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, and “if candidates choose to do something beyond that, that’s their decision.”
Beth Healy can be reached at email@example.com.