The following is a script from “Dialing for Dollars” which aired on April 24, 2016. Norah O’Donnell is the correspondent. Patricia Shevlin and Miles Doran, producers.
The American public has a low opinion of Congress. Only 14 percent think it’s doing a good job. But Congress has excelled in one way. Raising money. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for their 2014 election. And they never stop.
Nearly every day, they spend hours on the phone asking supporters and even total strangers for campaign donations — hours spent away from the jobs they were elected to do. The pressure on candidates to raise money has ratcheted up since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. That allowed unlimited spending by corporations, unions and individuals in elections. So our attention was caught by a proposal from a Republican congressman that would stop members of Congress from dialing for dollars. Given what it costs to get elected today, it’s either a courageous act, a campaign ploy or political suicide.
[David Jolly 2014 special election victory speech: Tonight is not about claiming victory. Tonight is about committing to service.]
Florida Republican David Jolly won a special election to Congress in March 2014. Facing a reelection bid that November, he was happy to get a lesson in fundraising from a member of his party’s leadership. But he was surprised by what he learned.
Rep. David Jolly: We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarter back rooms in front of a white board where the equation was drawn out. You have six months until the election. Break that down to having to raise $2 million in the next six months. And your job, new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to make sure you hit $18,000 a day.
Norah O’Donnell: Your first responsibility–
Rep. David Jolly: My first responsibility–
Norah O’Donnell: –as a congressman?
Rep. David Jolly: –as a sitting member of Congress.
Norah O’Donnell: How were you supposed to raise $18,000 a day?
Rep. David Jolly: Simply by calling people, cold-calling a list that fundraisers put in front of you, you’re presented with their biography. So please call John. He’s married to Sally. His daughter, Emma, just graduated from high school. They gave $18,000 last year to different candidates. They can give you $1,000 too if you ask them to. And they put you on the phone. And it’s a script.
There are actually scripts for calls. We got our hands on one distributed by the National Republican Congressional Committee to help GOP members invite donors to attend their annual fundraising dinner in March.