WASHINGTON – President Bush, often criticized by Democrats for his record-breaking fund raising, provides far more information about how and when his re-election campaign collects cash than Democratic hopefuls John Kerry (search) or John Edwards (search).
The campaign announces fund-raising appearances by Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney (search) and others ahead of time and reveals how much is raised on the day the event is held. Its Internet home page includes a link to the names of fund-raising volunteers who collect $50,000 or more for Bush, whose campaign has raised a record of more than $150 million so far.
In a posting updated weekly, Bush's Web site also lists all donors and how much each gave, going beyond the Federal Election Commission's (search) requirement that the names of those who donate $200 or more must be disclosed.
The Edwards campaign hasn't released a list of supporters who have raised $50,000 or more for the campaign, and spokeswoman Kim Rubey said it has no plans to do so. Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has raised millions from trial lawyers for his presidential bid.
The Kerry campaign released a list to the media in October. Even though Kerry is the winner of 18 of 20 contests, spokesman Michael Meehan said there is no need to update the list of $50,000-and-up volunteer fund-raisers because the front-runner hasn't gained any big givers since the fall.
"In a way there's an irony to this, and the irony is the Democrats are the ones beating up on Bush about this stuff, but they're the guys who have the least disclosure," said Frank Clemente, a spokesman for Public Citizen (search), a campaign finance watchdog group that has posted the Bush and Kerry lists of fund-raising volunteers on a Web site.
Clemente said Bush was the only one doing a "halfway decent" job disclosing details of his fund-raising practices to the public, while Kerry was doing "a half-baked job" and Edwards is "failing."
"It is interesting because if anything it makes it a lot easier for watchdog groups and the press to now say, 'See, we told you so, the guy is in hock to every industry that there is,"' Clemente said of Bush. "By the same token, I have to give him credit for providing enough information where those who watch this stuff can put two and two together."
The Edwards campaign, the only one of the three accepting public financing and its $45 million spending limit, informs the FEC about who its under-$200 donors are to get a taxpayer-financed grant matching those donations. It doesn't post those givers' names on its Web site.
The Kerry campaign doesn't disclose the identities of those who give under $200. Kerry will consider whether to do so if he becomes the Democratic nominee, Meehan said.
The Kerry campaign informs the news media when Kerry plans to attend a fund-raiser, but usually doesn't announce it when someone besides Kerry is holding a moneymaking event for him. It won't say how much was collected through a particular event.
"We'll never give a fund-raising total for a given day," Meehan said. Asked why not, he said: "No reason too."
Edwards sometimes reveals when fund-raisers are being held and how much is being raised but won't do so all the time.
"Our fund-raising events are private events and all of the money that we raise is disclosed when it's required by law, so we don't have any plans to change that at this point," Rubey said.
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (search) on Thursday called on Edwards to identify his biggest fund-raising volunteers before next week's contests in 10 states.