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Most of Romney's top fundraisers remain anonymous

By Richard Lardner

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Feb. 13 2012 2:00 p.m. MST

More than 1,000 bundlers collectively raised $152.2 million for the 2008 campaigns of Obama and his opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.

Romney's Republican opponents also haven't identified their bundlers. But the stakes are higher for Romney, who holds a huge fundraising lead over his rivals. Romney's campaign raised nearly $57 million in 2011 from individual contributions, which are capped by law at $2,500 each for primary and general elections.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who stunned Romney by sweeping contests last week in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, raised just $2.2 million last year. Gingrich, the former House speaker, raised $12.6 million last year and Paul, a Texas congressman, collected $25.5 million.

Santorum, Gingrich and Paul have not reported having any registered lobbyists who are bundlers, according to the FEC records.

Money is the lubricant for presidential campaigns. But Santorum, seeking to maintain momentum from his recent victories, sought to use Romney's financial dominance against him with a David-versus-Goliath message.

"We're not going to win this race the way Gov. Romney has won the states he's won already, by outspending his opponent by 5-to-1 and beating them up. He's not going to outspend Barack Obama 5-to-1," Santorum said last week in Dallas. "How are you going to win an election if your greatest attribute is 'I'll spend more money than the other person?'"

Among registered lobbyists who bundled contributions for Romney is Patrick J. Durkin, managing director of Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank. Durkin bundled $774,750, according to disclosure records filed with Congress.

Another lobbyist-bundler, T. Martin Fiorentino Jr. of The Fiorentino Group, represents Lender Processing Services, a mortgage processing company in Jacksonville, Fla. Nevada's attorney general filed a civil lawsuit against LPS in December that accuses the company of filing fraudulent documents in the months before the state's housing market collapsed. LPS has said the allegations are false and last month asked a judge to dismiss the case.

Romney may be keeping the names of his bundlers under wraps to avoid drawing attention to the emphasis his campaign is placing on large individual contributions and the role that Wall Street and the financial services industry are playing in helping to generate money, said Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert and a professor of government at Colby College in Maine.

"Essentially $38 million of the $57 million he raised came from people who gave $2,500," Corrado said. "That, to me, suggests a significant amount of bundling activity because those are the people capable of soliciting the larger checks."

Disclosing bundlers can have advantages. Bush embraced bundlers during his presidential campaigns, publicizing their names and rewarding them with titles such as Ranger and Pioneer. That served a dual purpose. The campaign could claim it was being transparent about its fundraising while at the same time motivating others to join an elite club.

"By making all of this public, the candidates can insulate themselves from the charge that they have something to hide," Corrado said, "and at the same time create a culture of fundraising amongst these individuals that tends to spur them to want to do more."

Online:

Federal Election Commission: http://www.fec.gov/data/LobbyistBundle.do?format=html

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