GOP House Member Wants to Ban Fundraising

GOP House Member Wants to Ban Fundraising

House Republican David Jolly, of Florida, is so sick of dialing for dollars every day that he introduced legislation Tuesday that would forbid members of Congress from personally asking for money. 

“Our na­tion is un­der siege by IS­IS, and yet … I’m ex­pec­ted to be fight­ing for your safety from a fun­drais­ing call suite at party headquar­ters. I won’t do it,” wrote Jolly, a conservative who is running for the Florida Senate seat being vacated by GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, in an op-ed.

Jolly’s bill is noteworthy given GOP leaders’ uniform opposition to campaign-finance restrictions. It comes at a time when conservatives have become increasingly critical of special interest campaign contributions, which they see as a tool for the GOP establishment to stifle dissent within the rank-and-file. Members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus were instrumental in killing a Senate leadership-backed rider to last year’s budget deal that would have increased limits on coordinated spending between parties and candidates.

To some degree, Jolly’s bill, too, appears to be thumbing its nose at the GOP establishment. 

“I think [the bill] a conversation starter,” says John Pudner, who heads a conservative reform group dubbed Take Back Our Republic and who has has been lobbying conservatives to take on campaign-finance reform. Pudner’s group wasn’t involved in drafting the bill, but he said he expects a number of conservatives to co-sponsor, and even more to at least enthusiastically support the idea behind it.

“As far as the prospects, it’s not a bill I see moving quickly,” says Pudner. “It probably moves too far for leadership to give it much consideration.”

Jolly is the second House member to openly decry the ever-growing fundraising pressures that go along with being a member of Congress.

Less than two weeks ago, Represenative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, also penned an op-ed for the Times in which he said that the burden of fundraising was a major factor in his decision not to seek reelection. "Since [taking office in 2000], I’ve spent roughly 4,200 hours in call time, attended more than 1,600 fund-raisers just for my own campaign and raised nearly $20 million in increments of $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 per election cycle,” Israel detailed. “And things have only become worse in the five years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat, said last year that freshman senators were expected to spend at least two-thirds of their time raising money, at a requisite clip of about $10,000 a day.

It’s long been an unspoken understanding that members of Congress must dedicate a great deal of time raising money for their own campaigns, as well as for their respective parties—especially as the cost of getting re-elected grows exponentially. But until recently, politicians haven’t been very candid about the details.

What Jolly’s bill, The Stop Act, aims to do is at least hold menbers of Congress to the same standard as the judicial candidates in 30 states who are prohibited from directly soliciting money. Members of Congress, however, would still be able to attend fundraisers and talk directly with donors under Jolly’s bill.