Here’s one more problem with big money in politics—it forces such insane competition that elected officials are forced to spend far more time raising money for their respective parties than they are doing the jobs their constituents elected them for in the first place.
Florida Republican David Jolly said he was surprised to find fundraising would be the highest priority pressed upon him by party officials after he won a 2014 special election. The member of the House said on “60 Minutes” party leaders told him “behind closed doors” that he needed to raise a hefty $2 million in his first six months.
There’s nothing like hitting the ground running, eh?
Jolly said he was informed:
“Your job, [as a] new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to make sure you hit $18,000 a day.”
Party Telemarketers, Or Public Servant?
Just like a telemarketer, the Hill reports, “members of Congress are given lists of names and scripts.”
There’s a catch, however.
Members of Congress are barred from fundraising on the grounds of the Capitol, so entire phone bank headquarters for the parties’ campaigns speckle the perimeter of the Capitol like space junk around Big Mamma Earth. Keeping the call centers nearby allows members of Congress the opportunity to meet their daily fundraising quotas by “ducking in” a few hours a day to put in some phone time. If they don’t pay up, who knows? Maybe Uncle Sam will send some good old boys over to break their knee caps.
Jolly said Congress arranges everything around fundraising. As far as he’s concerned, it’s “shameful.” He said:
“It’s beneath the dignity of the office that our voters in our communities entrust us to serve.”
Jolly is gunning for 2016 drop-out Marco Rubio’s seat. Insiders tell him he’ll need to raise $100 million to “win” (read “buy his seat”), but Jolly says he’s made a promise “not to make fundraising phone calls.” You can take your cold calls and shove ’em.
Jolly’s also brought the “STOP” Act home to meet the parents, “which would ban federal elected officials from soliciting donations—though they could still attend fundraisers and have campaign operations work on their behalf.” He’s hoping mom and dad will approve and that the “Stop” Act doesn’t spend the first part of the evening getting the stink eye from pop. He’s even brought in Rep. Rick Nolan (D) to vouch for the bill as co-sponsor, noting how much “things have changed” since he started dating democracy, himself, back in the 70s. How can the folks say no?
Thanks to Citizens United, new members in both major parties routinely tell their new members they better cough up 30 hours every week for fundraising—30 hours for a minimum of $126,000 into the party coffers every week–each. No wonder these folks don’t have time to respond to their constituents! They’re too busy getting their chops busted by Uncle Sam for coming up short, and so many have had it with the pressure, it’s keeping people from aspiring to run for office.
“I could give you names of people who”ve said, ‘You know, I’d like to go to Washington and help fix problems, but I don’t want to go to Washington and become–a midlevel–telemarketer, dialing for dollars, for cryin’ out loud.”
But, since Jolly is not playing ball hitting the phones like he should be, his chances at receiving wide support for the bill are about as good as his hitting $18,000 a day without making phone calls. So far, only six have signed onto the bill. Others say the bill has no chance, and they’re probably right.