11 February 2013

Here's how bad the money/Congress problem is

Excerpts from a StarTribune article about the experience of a Minnesota representative after his arrival in Washington:
Fresh off a $16 million congressional race, Nolan received a not-so-subtle reminder that he is expected to maintain the frenzied fundraising pace that helped him win his northern Minnesota seat.

During an orientation session, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee staff recommended that incoming members, as part of a 10-hour work day, spend four hours daily on the phone canvassing for campaign contributions during the congressional session.

That is twice as much time as the DCCC recommended spending on actual legislative work, such as attending committee meetings and voting...

When Nolan left Congress in 1981, members spent time on the House floor and in offices and cafeterias, chatting up colleagues and forging connections regardless of party ties. "It's a very different environment than when he was here" before, said Norman Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

Now, he said, as soon as a vote is taken on the House floor, a stream of representatives often can be seen bolting for Republican and Democratic party headquarters or party social clubs to begin dialing for dollars. "[Fundraising] literally takes them away from their jobs..."

Nolan said that the DCCC presentation to incoming members likely understated the time spent fundraising to avoid intimidating new members. He said that conventional wisdom dictates that "if you're smart, you're going to spend 30 hours per week" on the phone, at formal fundraisers and meeting with potential donors...

House members are expected to contribute to their party's campaign committees each election cycle, either directly or by donating to other candidates. In both parties, failure to deliver can carry severe consequences...

Nolan said that when he begins fundraising for 2014, he'll stick to weekends and evenings. He will not, he said, devote four hours a day during his work week. "If it means I'm a one-term congressman, so be it," he said.
Image found at Stand Up For America.

1 comment:

  1. As I argue here [http://www.paulbeard.org/wordpress/ideas-various/simple-campaign-finance-reform/] we need to attack this problem from the demand side, not the supply side. Like drug or alcohol prohibitions, you'll never solve anything by tinkering with supply, other than create new sources.


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