House OKs Mandatory Disclosure by Lobbyists Who 'Bundle' Donations to Lawmakers

Under strong urging by Democratic leaders, the House on Thursday approved mandatory disclosure by lobbyists who round up campaign donations from others and "bundle" them together for lawmakers.

The 382-37 vote was a partial step toward fulfilling the Democrats' pledge to run a more ethical and open Congress. It was seen a prelude to passage of a second ethics-related bill that would, among other things, require lawmakers to identify themselves when seeking "earmarks," or special spending items in bills.

Democratic leaders had to squelch a rebellion among colleagues who said the lobbying changes were going too far and might threaten their ability to raise campaign funds and land well-paid lobbying jobs when they leave Congress.

The most contentious issue involved requiring lobbyists to disclose so-called bundling practices, in which they solicit and collect campaign donations from several sources and deliver them to a favored lawmaker in one package. The long-employed practice is popular with many lawmakers, who find it easier than raising money check-by-check. It also is favored by lobbyists who find it helps them ingratiate themselves to lawmakers without having to divulge the role they play.