Nieman Watchdog interviewed CIR staff reporter Will Evans about his ABCNews.com investigation of lobbyists who work as top fundraisers for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
Evans explains how he happened upon the story when he ran the names of top fundraisers, or bundlers, through FARA, the Justice Department database of lobbyists who work for foreign governments. He says the amount of information he found was surprising.
[FARA] is a good tool for reporters. It includes much more information than the records for domestic lobbyists. This goes back to concerns about Nazi propaganda. The Foreign Agents Registration Act  was passed, with tougher rules for anyone lobbying for a foreign country. So every lobbyist for a foreign country has to file these statements saying who they met with, what they did, why they did it, what they’re getting paid exactly. With domestic lobbyists, they may be doing the same thing, but you don’t know because their disclosure is much more limited.
Evans also points out that Republican candidates so far have not disclosed all of their fundraisers. “This is an issue that campaign finance watchdogs are upset about, that there are no mandatory disclosures of bundlers,” he says in the interview. “There are mega fundraisers out there who are helping to bankroll this election, and they aren’t just people who like a candidate. Sometimes they are, but other times they represent specific interests and agendas, and it is important to follow that even past the election—what they get for their role in fundraising and the access that may come with that.”