Remember when John McCain used to be associated with campaign finance reform instead of “Joe the plumber”? Well, if we want change, it’s not through term limits, but by placing restrictions that limit political donations to people in their districts.
I always knew we had the best politicians money could buy, but this report should make it crystal clear:
Even though Congressional approval ratings are at rock bottom, incumbents are enjoying their usual advantage. A massive cash advantage. According to a study from the nonprofit campaign watchdog maplight.org, over the past three years House members have raised more than $700 million dollars for their reelection campaigns. More than 70 percent ($500 million) of it from people who can’t even vote for them. From Washington, Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports.
Steve Henn: The typical congressman raises almost 80 percent of his campaign money from people who live outside his district, according to Dan Newman at Maplight.
Dan Newman: Politicians will tell you that they represent you–but if the money that fuels their campaign comes overwhelmingly from elsewhere, that raises real democratic questions about who is really running the show.
James Thurber is a campaign finance expert at American University. He’s been tracking political giving for years.
James Thurber: If members follow the money, in terms of talking to people or even voting a particular way, that really undermines what the constituents want in their district.
Members who represent low-income districts say they have to raise money from outsiders to survive. And no one’s surprised that powerful members who sit on key committees raise money this way.
Thurber: Money goes to people who have power.
But Thurber was surprised so much outside money flowed to even junior lawmakers. In fact, just 13 House members raised more than half their cash from their own constituents.
Does this bother you as much as it bothers me? Read the whole story to hear about the congressman who gets 99% of his money from outside his district, and thinks it’s rude to ask his constituents for money, when his pockets have already been stuffed.