What do bundlers get?

By Laurie Bennett

October 18, 2011 at 1:35pm

Some 390 adept networkers have raised millions of dollars for the Obama re-election campaign.

What, other than seeing their chosen candidate stay in the White House, do they hope to gain?

The short answer is access - in the form of meetings, events and appointments to government positions, whether they be advisory or influential.

Looking back at 583 bundlers in President Obama’s first presidential run, we find 91 federal appointments.

(We should note that there are many Justice Department positions and lesser boards in other agencies that we don’t include in our database, so the total number of appointments is undoubtedly higher. Here’s a broader survey by the Center for Public Integrity.)

Matthew W. Barzun
Matthew W. Barzun

Ambassadorships are a favor handed out to many big money raisers. We count 23 such appointments in the Obama administration, some of which are shown in the map above. A 24th - Robert A. Mandell’s nomination as ambassador to Luxembourg - awaits Senate approval.

Mandell was named after another Obama bundler, Cynthia Stroum, stepped down in the midst of a near-mutiny by embassy staff.

Matthew Barzun, a 2008 bundler who then became ambassador to Sweden, has left his diplomatic post to serve as national finance chairman of Obama’s re-election campaign.

Many bundlers are appointed to advisory or cultural committees, where they may not wield much direct power but hobnob with other networkers. One of the most prominent examples is Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who is a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and a fundraiser in the current campaign.

But a number of Obama’s 2008 money people serve in top positions. Ronald Kirk is U.S. trade representative. Valerie B. Jarrett is senior adviser to the president. Jeh Charles Johnson is general counsel to the Defense Department and Robert S. Rivkin is general counsel for Transportation.

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