Congressmen Dialing for Dollars:
Eighty four percent (84%) of the American public are disenfranchised with Congress. Most people do not think they are doing their jobs. To add to this there has been growing opposition, the GOP has continued to be stubborn in the last eight years since President Obama took office.
The politician’s duplicity has become futile and ineffective. We now find out that their first responsibility in office is to raise money for their re-elections. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for the 2014 election. So who is doing the marketing jobs, calling and talking to people, large companies, SuperPACs, and supporters for donations? The answer is the elected officials themselves. According to an investigation by CBS 60 Minutes this past Sunday (April 24th), elected officials are spending up to four hours a day raising big money. Congress officials are not allowed to use the phones in their offices but do take the time to walk to the designated areas in a separate building where they can sit in an office making these phone calls to raise money. Comparatively, that’s what telemarketers do. Elected officials are selling themselves and asking for money from people, companies, SuperPACs, and supporters to continue to donate money for their re-election. Up until now, this was a well kept secret. Everyday, our elected officials spend hours away from doing their jobs they were elected to do.
The Supreme Court Citizens United decision in 2010 allowed unlimited spending by corporations, unions, and individuals in elections. A proposal by a Republican congressman has been proposed to stop members of Congress from raising money during their daily jobs as elected Congressmen. 60 minutes pointed out this was a courageous act and possibly political suicide for Florida Republican David Jolly who won a special election to Congress in March 2014. Facing a re-election that November, he was happy to get a lesson in fund raising by a member of his party’s leadership. He was told you have six months until the re-election. Break that down and he had to raise 2 million dollars in the next six months and your job as a new member of congress is to raise $18,000 dollars a day. He was told specifically this is your first responsibility to make sure you hit $18,000 dollars a day. Cold calling a list that fundraisers put in front of you. You’re presented with a biography of every person on that list: who they are; who they’re married to: how much they gave in the past, etc… There are actually scripts given to the elected officials with complete instructions on how to make these fundraising calls. This is presented by the NRCC National Republican Congressional Committee. It has a yes or no logical diagram to follow. The NRCC dinner did it’s job and met their goal, they raised 20 million dollars by November.
The House working schedule is arranged around fund raising. You never see a committee member working through lunch because those are the fund raising times. In between afternoon votes and evening votes that’s when you see elected officials doing their fund raising talking on the phones while walking, pacing outside back and forth. By law, members of Congress cannot make fund raising calls in their office during office hours, but that doesn’t stop them to walk outside or go to the designated centers to make their calls. Both parties, Republican and Democrat have set up call centers where elected officials make their calls. In addition to raising money for their election campaigns, they are also told to raise money for their parties. With a hidden camera, 60 Minutes was able to get inside the Republican call center where outside the offices there is a large board stating who has raised how much and they can compare. In February, he introduced a bill that will stop members of Congress from campaign fund raising. Members of congress spend too much time doing fund raising and not enough time doing their jobs. Republican congressman Reid Ribble has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Stop act. After six years in Washington, he is going home to Wisconsin. He admitted that he wanted to quit when he was told to do his responsibility in fund raising. Congressman Rick Nolan is also sponsoring the Stop act. He confirmed that they are told to spend 30 hours a week what they term “dialing for dollars”. He stated this is discouraging good people from running for office. Members of Congress are basically telemarketers. In 2013 at an orientation meeting, new Democratic members were shown a Model Daily Schedule: 4 hours Call Time; 1-2 hours Constituent Visits, 2 hours Committee/Floor; 1 hour Strategic Outreach (breakfasts, meets, greets, and press). The man in charge of the Democratic Campaign Committee is Congressman Steve Israel a Democrat from New York said it is “Very frustrating, the result of a system that is broken, that allows unlimited amounts of money to be spent against you.” Before Citizens United, they were asked to put 1 to at most 2 hours a day in campaign fund raising. He spent more than 4,000 hours raising campaign funds. Still he doesn’t support the Stop act. “I’m glad that Congressman Jolly is focusing attention on the issue, I’d rather focus on solutions on the issue, and if I believed that his bill was really going to be meaningful and take out money out of politics I’d support it in a second. If you asked me to make an assessment on the bill regarding as to the prospects of passage one being the president should get ready to sign it and five being it’s dead on arrival. I’d put it at a fifteen, it’s not going to pass. Jolly said, “People are scared to death of their own re-election. There a lot of people who will see me coming and break eye contact and they don’t want to talk about it.” Only six have supported this bill. Jolly is now running for the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio. It’s a race that could determine whether Republicans hold on to control of the senate. How much would it cost to win the senate seat. Jolly said, “For some say 100 million dollars state wide.” How are you going to raise that money is you’re not going to make any phone calls. “We have a robust campaign team that can make phone calls, organize events, that can raise as many resources as a campaign team. If at the end of the day you tell me that the only way to be the US Senator is to raise 100 million dollars in Florida, then I’m not the next US Senator, it is a shame for the system and but it’s fine for me.”
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