Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the 2016 presidential candidates leading the money race in the Democratic and Republican fields, are amassing fortunes that will leave them politically indebted to some of the most influential lobbyists in Washington.
Disclosures to the Federal Election Committee reveal how lobbyists for Wal-Mart, Chevron, Facebook and Goldman Sachs have been acting as fundraising captains for Clinton and Bush, bundling donations to channel to the two frontrunners.
Lobbyists have long sought to maximize their impact over candidates by pooling together donations from their deep-pocketed contacts, often by encouraging them all to make the maximum permitted donation.
A joint analysis of FEC documents by the Guardian and the Center for Responsive Politics reveals Clinton and Bush have been the primary beneficiaries of the practice.
Although lobbyist bundlers helped raise only a slice of Clinton’s and Bush’s overall cash hauls, their support could pay dividends, in terms of access and influence, should either candidate be elected to the White House next year.
Clinton disclosed 40 named lobbyist bundlers, who brought in, on average, $54,614. In total, lobbyist bundlers generated more than $2 million for Clinton. Bush revealed the identities of eight lobbyist bundlers, who between them raised raised $228,400 at an average of $28,550.
Although Bush had fewer lobbyist bundlers, who raised less cash, the figures in his case are likely skewed to show only the tip of an iceberg. The former Florida governor has opted to make an allied Super PAC–rather than his official campaign fund–the principal recipient of money to back his White House bid.
This information will therefore remain behind a wall of secrecy. Super PACs, unlike candidates, are not required to release lobbyist bundler names.
The registered lobbyist who bundled the most money for Clinton was Jackson Dunn, who works for K Street lobbying shop FTI Government Affairs and raised raised $231,554. In 1990s, he worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and now serves clients such as PepsiCo, Mastercard and Dow Chemical.
Another lobbyist playing an important role for Clinton is Tony Podesta, who has made millions from a family-based empire and is considered one of the most influential Democratic lobbyists in the Beltway.
His brother, John Podesta, another alumni from Bill Clinton’s White House (and former lobbyist himself), is now Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
In addition to his brother, John Podesta can draw on the support of dozens of other lobbyists bundling donations, such as Andrew Smith, who looks after the interests of the Washington Redskins football team and raised $133,350, and Steven Elmendorf, a former Democratic operative who now lobbies for Facebook, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs and helped pool $141,815.
David Jones, a partner at Capitol Counsel, who includes Walmart in his long list of clients and was a member of Clinton’s finance committee during her failed run for the White House in 2008, raised $120,675, the FEC disclosures show.