Lobbyists Banned, but Big Donors Play Major Transition Roles

And exactly how Obama's transition will conduct its fundraising is unclear. The transition's press office (still beefing up its staff just a few days after the campaign) could not yet explain who would run the fundraising efforts or if there would be any limitations on bundlers.

What's more, say McGehee, even if there are disclosures of private donations, "anytime you have people in positions of power in the position of raising money from private sources there are dangers that lurk," she said. "There's always a question of what they are seeking in return."

During the George W. Bush transition in 2000, the transition raised $4.7 million in private funds while the Bill Clinton transition took in $5.3 million, according to disclosures to the General Services Administration. (The Bush team took $7.1 million in public funds. The Clinton team used $5 million.)

For now, though, watchdogs are keeping close tabs that future changes will be in the air in both the inauguration committee and the formation of the next administration.

"It's a very significant step and if he stays with that kind of policy in the formation of his administration it would have tremendous impact," said Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen.

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