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Candidates bungle with bundlers

Bundlers who dive for campaign dollars pose a problem for presidential campaigns.

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In 2000, presidential candidate George W. Bush was a pioneer with his "pioneers" – fundraisers whose haul totaled $100,000 or more. Now Hillary Clinton has her army of "HillRaisers" and Rudy Giuliani his roster of "pitchers," "sluggers," and "captains." This fundraising trend poses a danger to campaign integrity.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with vigorously shaking the money tree. Contributions indicate candidate support, as the campaigns are now showing with third-quarter financial results.

The questions are always how money is raised, and whether there exists the potential for corruption and influence-buying.

Such dangers prompted campaign-finance reform in 2002, which banned unlimited contributions to parties, or "soft money."

Just as water runs downhill, so candidates seek new ways to raise money. The latest trend of "bundling" limited contributions together needs greater scrutiny, especially in this new Wild West era in which most presidential hopefuls are abandoning underfunded public financing and its spending limits.

The media have reported several examples of bungled bundling. The most egregious is the case of California fundraiser Norman Hsu, a Democratic bundler for Hillary Clinton. He now sits in jail on an unrelated state grand-theft charge to which he once pleaded no contest. Federal authorities are now investigating his financial dealings. Sen. Clinton plans to return the $850,000 he raised, some of it from people who didn't even know Mr. Hsu.

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