Should Elected Officials Spend Their Time ‘Dialing for Dollars’?
In a year of outsiders and rebels, one of the most rebellious outsiders is being allowed to “twist slowly, slowly in the wind.” First-term Florida Representative David Jolly is being abandoned in his re-election bid, while facing Republican-turned-Democrat, Former Governor Charlie Crist in November. And what was Jolly’s “crime”? Fighting for what just about everybody agrees about: our legislators should legislate, not spend all their time on the phone, begging money for their next campaign.
The first-term GOP incumbent is running a lone-wolf reelection campaign, fighting for his political life as Democrats aim to unseat him with a big name in Florida politics, former Gov. Charlie Crist. But Republican leaders have left him for dead, after a falling-out over money in politics, even though party strategists say they’re doing everything they can to protect the GOP’s House majority.
“When we win this, we will have done it our own way, with nobody owning us,” Jolly said in an interview, looking relaxed as he sat in the back booth of a local crab shack in his district on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Jolly is protesting being forced to “dial for dollars” instead of doing his job, and while the Party denies it, Jolly’s supporters say they have proof.
Jolly, touting the “Stop Act” — his bill to ban lawmakers from direct fundraising —said new members were expected to raise $18,000 a day by cold calling potential donors, prompting the NRCC to label him a liar.
“Simply put, this meeting never happened,” NRCC Executive Director Rob Simms wrote in a memo after the segment aired. “It is a work of fiction.”
At the time, Jolly spokesman Preston Rudie immediately pushed back on the memo, offering up the date, time and location of the meeting and threatening to release names of the attendees if the NRCC “wishes to escalate their denial.” . . .
“People hate the political parties, and they hate Congress. And you look at the NRCC, and you can see why: They’re a bunch of *ssholes,” said a Jolly loyalist. “Running against someone like Crist and people like the NRCC helps us in the district. There are a lot of independents.”
We’re bringing up this House race now, because Jolly has to win his August GOP primary, first. He had originally begun to run for the US Senate, but then, Marco Rubio changed his mind about retiring, and that changed Jolly’s mind, too. Likewise, Charlie Crist had not planned on running for any office in 2016, but then, he saw that Jolly’s district had been redrawn, making it Democratic-leaning.
Despite the redistricting, polls have not shown a runaway Crist win.
Two new surveys of the race in Florida’s 13th Congressional District show the volatility of the just-formed match between Republican incumbent David Jolly and his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist.
A private poll conducted for the Crist campaign by Public Policy Polling survey shows Crist leading Jolly, 46 to 43 percent.
Meanwhile, a new private poll by McLaughlin & Associates shows Jolly leading Crist 50 to 38 percent, with 12 percent undecided. The McLaughlin & Associates survey was first reported in Politico.
The only previous public survey conducted by St. Pete Polls showed the race in a dead heat, with the candidates tied at 44 percent.
So, if Jolly is doing so well, why isn’t the GOP running to his aid? As noted above, they’ve had disagreements. The biggest disagreement is Jolly’s “Stop Act.”
“We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarters’ backrooms in front of a whiteboard where the equation was drawn out,” Rep. David Jolly (R-FL13) described to 60 Minutes. “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 raise $18,000 a day.”
Jolly has introduced the bill H.R. 4443, the Stop Act, to combat this problem. It would prohibit federal politicians, notably Members of Congress, from personally soliciting contributions for any federal election activity. . .
“We can’t have a part-time Congress in a full-time world,” said Jolly in the press release announcing the bill’s introduction. “Too many in Congress are more focused on raising money than solving the problems people elected them to fix.”. . .
Some Members of Congress spend as much as 30 hours a week soliciting campaign contributions, an amount many consider far too high considering the more pressing public policy issues they should be dealing with. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who doesn’t appear to have weighed in on this specific bill, recently estimated that two-thirds of his time in Congress was spent raising money. The Huffington Post published a secret document prepared by the Democratic Party advising its members to spend four hours a day fundraising.
The bill has six cosponsors, five Republicans and one Democrat: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI7), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3), Rep. John Mica (R-FL7), Rep. Richard Nolan (D-MN8), Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL11), and Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI8).
Back in 1997, Then Vice President Al Gore was caught soliciting campaign donations from the White House. The Washington Post took him to task for it.
“There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law.” — Al Gore, seven times (in one form or another), White House news conference, March 3
“Controlling legal authority.” Whatever other legacies Al Gore leaves behind between now and retirement, he forever bequeaths this newest weasel word to the lexicon of American political corruption.
Gore is talking here about his phone calls from the White House soliciting Democratic campaign contributions. Now, he cannot say, “I have broken no law,” because Section 607 of Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code states very clearly there is to be no solicitation of campaign funds in federal government offices. Gore broke the law as written, as understood and as practiced. His defense? Apparently, that there are no cases testing the law. So there.
The issue was a problem for Gore, which followed him, embarrassingly, into the presidential debate with George Bush, in 2000. But is it enough to say you can’t call from the White House, but it’s ok to call from the phone booth across the street?
“Nobody’s been convicted” is not a defense, and neither is, “everybody does it.” Do we really have to have laws that say a legislator should spend his or her time legislating—to do their job. Should it be illegal for an office holder to beg for money on our time? After all, they’re not hourly employees. They’re on salary—working for us.
Both parties will continue to require office holders to beg for money until we have a law that says they work for us, not for the parties. David Jolly’s “Stop Act” could be a step in the right direction. Despite objections from the Democratic Party. And despite objections from Jolly’s own Republican Party.