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Political Editors / Jun. 1, 2017

When It Comes to Congressional Leadership, Follow the Money

How much money a member of Congress can raise for their respective party is the primary determiner of leadership positions.

A dirty little congressional practice is exposed in a recent story from reporter Sharyl Attkisson and The Daily Signal. Attkisson notes a report entitled, “The Price of Power” by Nick Penniman of Issue One, which reveals that the establishment of leadership positions on various committees is not merit-based but money-based. The more money a member of Congress can raise for their respective political party’s coffers, the greater their opportunity for powerful committee positions. Penniman states, “It’s not only a powerful position, it’s a perverse system. In fact, it’s the inverse of what we all as citizens should want.” Not that it’s surprising.

The current system is designed as a means to generate money for the political parties. Each member of Congress is expected to pay “dues” every two years, and these dues are often raised by the members engaging in what is termed “dialing for dollars,” where members make fundraising calls in order to meet their financial quotas.

The amount of campaign funds raised and given to the party determines who moves to the front of the line. For example, every Republican member of Congress pays party “dues” that run in the six-figure range for an ordinary member. Penniman states, “It is borderline extortion. … Today, besides the $1.2 million required of ‘A’ committee chairman, Republicans who chair secondary ‘B’ committees are expected to raise $875,000 in dues. The top Republican in the House, as speaker, has to raise $20 million. The number two majority leader … $10 million.”

Former Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD) said, “I think we have reached crisis proportions when it comes to money. A member of Congress devotes almost one-third of every day to raising money.” But not only are members of Congress fundraising on taxpayers’ time, they’re raising funds from the very groups they are on committees to oversee and regulate. Former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) explains, “They [the party leadership] actually intentionally give you those lists of people that have something to do with your committees, because they know that they’re the ones most likely to say yes [to giving funds].”

With money rather than merit determining leadership roles in Washington, is it any wonder the government has become so complacent when faced with corruption?

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