Fresh off an appearance on the top-rated CBS news magazine “Sixty Minutes,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota showed up at the National Press Club Monday to tout legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from making personal requests for political donations.
Nolan was one of the first cosponsors of the STOP Act introduced in January by Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida. The bill would outlaw personal fundraising calls by members of Congress.
It languishes in committee with little chance of action in this presidential election year. But Jolly and Nolan told reporters at the press club that it is necessary to stop the “scandal” of personal and party fundraising. Both political parties pressure members of the House and Senate to spend time raising money when they should be serving their constituents.
Nolan calls the practice “dialing for dollars” and said it “turns members of Congress into middle-level telemarketers.” It takes place while Congress is in session supposedly doing the “people’s work,” Nolan said.
Instead, most politicians feel obliged to spend 20 to 30 hours a week holed up in call centers away from the Capitol pleading for cash.
Jolly and Nolan said they acknowledge that outlawing personal solicitations will take time, possibly years, if it is successful at all.
Still, they hope to start what they describe as a movement using websites, Twitter hashtags and media appearances like the one they made Monday to gain traction.
“The way change occurs,” said Nolan, “is by people stepping up and calling out what’s wrong.”