Ring That Bell

On 4-24-16 CBS 60 Minutes ran an exposé entitled “Dialing For Dollars” with Norah O’Donnell. “The American public has a low opinion of Congress. Only 14 percent think it’s doing a good job. But Congress has excelled in one way. Raising money. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for their 2014 election. And they never stop. Nearly every day, they spend hours on the phone asking supporters and even total strangers for campaign donations — hours spent away from the jobs they were elected to do. The pressure on candidates to raise money has ratcheted up since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010.” “By law, members of Congress cannot make fundraising calls from their offices. So both parties have set up “call centers” just a few blocks away. This is where the Republicans have theirs.” O’Donnell quotes Republican former Florida congressman and current GOP Senate primary candidate David Jolly: “It is a cult-like boiler room on Capitol Hill where sitting members of Congress, frankly I believe, are compromising the dignity of the office they hold by sitting in these sweatshop phone booths calling people asking them for money. And their only goal is to get $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 out of the person on the other end of the line.” How exactly does that work? Jolly: “We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarter back rooms in front of a white board where the equation was drawn out. You have six months until the election. Break that down to having to raise $2 million in the next six months. And your job, new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to make sure you hit $18,000 a day.” Rick Nolan, Democrat Minnesota congressman, is quoted as saying: “Well, both parties have told newly elected members of the Congress that they should spend 30 hours a week in the Republican and Democratic call centers across the street from the Congress, dialing for dollars.” New York Democrat congressman Steve Israel concurred: “I’d have to put in about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, at most, two hours a day into fundraising. And that’s the way it went until 2010, when Citizens United was enacted. At that point, everything changed. And I had to increase that to two, three, sometimes four hours a day, depending on what was happening in the schedule.” Today, The Newark Advocate headlined that Licking County’s own congressional representative Pat “Tiberi eyes Senate bid in 2018” (Deirdre Shesgreen, Gannett Ohio, 2-27-16). “Earlier this month, the congressman’s campaign sent out a news release touting his fundraising prowess. The missive noted that Tiberi had more money in the bank than Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor and Democrat running against Portman. Tiberi, who has a safe Republican congressional district, closed the first quarter of 2016 with nearly $4 million on hand, compared to Strickland’s $1.2 million.” Analysis finds this to be a sure sign of a hard worker. “Norah O’Donnell: You’re saying members of Congress are becoming like telemarketers? Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, 30 hours a week, that’s a lot of telemarketing. Probably more than most telemarketers do.” Pat Tiberi, hardest working telemarketer central Ohio has sent to Washington. Ring that bell!

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