Members of Congress Spend 30 Hours a Week in Call Centers Raising Campaign Cash

We’ve discussed in previous blogging how the inordinate amount of time our members of Congress spend in Washington at their parties’ call centers raising campaign cash keeps them from studying the issues and getting things done.

Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida* has advocated my solution of requiring the House to put in a full work week during session. On 60 Minutes, last night, Rep. Jolly spoke about a bigger solution he has proposed—H.R. 4443, the Stop Act—which would ban members of Congress from directly asking for campaign cash.

Rep. Rick Nolan, Democrat from Minnesota, has joined Rep. Jolly to cosponsor the Stop Act. Rep. Nolan says the current fundraising demands placed on members by their parties are turning our Congresspeople into telemarketers:

Congressman Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Minnesota, is also co-sponsoring the Stop Act. Nolan was first elected to Congress in 1974 but served just six years. He returned in 2013.

Rep. Rick Nolan: It seems like I took a nap and I came back and I say, “Wow, what happened to this place? What’s happened to democracy?” I mean, the Congress of the United States has hardly become a democratic institution anymore.

Norah O’Donnell: Why?

Rep. Rick Nolan: Well, because of all the money in politics, in my judgment.

Norah O’Donnell: What has your party said about how members of Congress should raise money?

Rep. Rick Nolan: 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.

Norah O’Donnell: Thirty hours a week?

Rep. Rick Nolan: Thirty hours is what they tell you you should spend. And it’s discouraging good people from running for public 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 mid-level telemarketer, dialing for dollars, for crying out loud.”

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 [Norah O’Donnell, “Are Members of Congress Becoming Telemarketers?60 Minutes, 2016.04.24].

Our Rep. Kristi Noem isn’t a sponsor yet. She should be. Better yet, rather than passing legislation to govern their own behavior, our current members of Congress should vow not to spend any time in the fundraising call center in Washington, at least not until they’ve passed a complete budget and cleared all the other bills off the Congressional calendar. And our Democratic candidates, Paula Hawks for House and Jay Williams for Senate, should vow to ignore those fundraising demands and never set foot in those D.C. call centers when they go to Washington to serve South Dakota.

We need Congresspeople, not telemarketers. We should say to Congress the same thing we say to distracted drivers: Get off the phone and drive… in this case, drive informed political discourse and intelligent policy solutions!

*Correction 18:20 CDT: As Rep. Schoenbeck notes below, I mislabeled Rep. Jolly’s home state. The good Congressman represents the 13th district in Florida, not Wisconsin. He has won support from two Wisconsin co-sponsors, Rep. Sean Duffy and Rep. Reid Ribble.

17 Responses to Members of Congress Spend 30 Hours a Week in Call Centers Raising Campaign Cash

  1. Porter Lansing

    As an apprentice in a very intense sales training program in the ’70s, I was trained to do 20 hours of telemarketing a week. Thirty is a lot. It’s really training in self-esteem. Rejection needs to be discounted and persistence emphasized but not for elected representatives. Who’s doing their job? Interns?

  2. Lee Schoenbeck

    I think Jolly is from Florida – won his boss’s old seat

  3. Roger Cornelius

    30 hours a week is what Walmart calls a full time job.

  4. mike from iowa

    Rick Nolan is my BIL,but at last report was living in Florida/South Carolina and was a staunch right winger. Sis is gonna be bewildered as a goat on astro-turf.

  5. Does photo op Thune hang out there to.

  6. No wonder politics has a bad name.

  7. It’s a vicious cycle. Congress cuts down work hours so members can spend most of their time raising money for re-election instead of working. Getting re-elected is more important to these politicians and parties than doing their job they were elected to do. We need a supreme court justice who will vote to overturn Citizens United, and we need public financing of campaigns. Let’s put these folks to work full time representing us. Noem still won’t read or understand legislation though.

  8. John Oliver did this story way before and way better.

  9. This situation is ridiculous. It time for government to get to work.

  10. John Kennedy Claussen

    No wonder Congress only works a three day “French work week:”

    Because it then gives them time to go to work at their other part time job at the call center….. If you ask me, that’s called poetic justice…..

  11. Darin Larson

    This is the story of the prostitution of Democracy: access and influence for sale. They are not working for our country. They are working for the money and those who can provide them the money. Disgusting!

  12. Porter Lansing

    First, the facts: France’s work week — needless to say — is not three days. In 2000, France’s government created a 35-hour work week with the goal of lowering unemployment. Employers can, and often do, ask workers to work more hours, as the BBC reported, but they must pay them overtime after 35 hours.
    Statements like Jeb Bush’s are why he’s just to unlikeable to be President.


    …notes 3 themes:

    Congress can’t be anything we want it to be. It is a constitutionally engineered institution, programmed to have certain features and behave in certain ways within the larger separation-of-powers system.

    1. Members are parochial. special interests reign.

    2. (this is a good article, worth reading, sorry my lap top is virus-ing since downloading WINDOWS 10. I can’t sein it down for u)

  14. I’m defending nothing except the concept nothing is served by misleading.

    Members of Congress aren’t required to be on the phone 30 hours a week. They are given a schedule of thirty hours where cubicles, lists, and phone lines are available to make calls. I’ll wager there isn’t enough cubicles for the 535 members to be on an hour a week.

  15. John Kennedy Claussen

    Porter, so what you are telling us is that the French work much harder than the Republicans in Congress. No wonder why Republicans back in ’04 claimed that the Democrats were “too French,” because obviously Democrats worker harder like the French than Republicans do in Congress… It must have something to do with eating too many “Freedom Fries.”

  16. Porter Lansing

    Democrats also spend 30 hours a week asking for money. We as a country could do elections better.
    Official electoral campaigns in France are very brief. Campaign finance is strictly regulated. All forms of paid commercial advertisements through the press or by any audiovisual means are prohibited during the three months preceding the election. Instead, political advertisements are aired free of charge on an equal basis for all of the candidates on national television channels and radio stations during the official campaign. Campaign donations and expenditures are capped. Candidates must appoint an independent financial representative to handle all their financial matters relating to the election. Campaign accounts are audited by a special commission. Candidates whose campaign accounts are certified may be reimbursed up to 50 percent of their expenses by the state if they meet certain conditions.

  17. John Kennedy Claussen

    The French were instrumental in helping us to win the Revolutionary War. So just as they helped to give us our democracy, their political practices today are a potential helping hand once again to hard working Democrats in Congress who are advocating campaign finance reform, in order to achieve a greater democratic experience here in the States for today and into the future: