New documents affirm Issue One reports about the price of power in Congress

Recently leaked internal Democratic Party documents confirm a disturbing trend that Issue One has been calling attention to for years: Both the Democratic and Republican parties lean on members of Congress to raise astronomical amounts of money and expect House members serving on influential committees to pay for their positions.

Both parties appear to follow the mantra that the more influential a role a lawmaker wants, the more money they are expected to raise. To meet these fundraising quotas, members of Congress frequently raise campaign contributions from corporations, labor unions, and other special interests that have business before their committees in Congress.

“These quotas are not just morally appalling. They are also destructive to the functioning of government. As lawmakers gain greater responsibilities, they’re actually having to allocate more time away from Congress to pursue campaign cash. Congress has the power to end this nefarious practice, which empowers special interest groups and denigrates our public servants,” said Issue One CEO Nick Penniman.

“Lawmakers, especially those leading the most powerful committees in the House, should be prioritizing the important work of crafting legislation with colleagues, not constantly begging for contributions from lobbyists,” continued Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chair Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN).

Added Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chair Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN): “Dialing for dollars demeans Congress as well as members. House ethics rules should be clarified to ensure that the political parties cannot continue to turn legislators into telemarketers.” 

According to internal party documents published last week by The Intercept, the fundraising expectations placed on influential lawmakers by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) have risen by 20% in just three election cycles.

These new documents show that the top Democrats on the four most powerful committees in the U.S. House of Representatives — Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, and Ways and Means — are each expected to raise $1.8 million for the DCCC during the 2019-2020 election cycle. 

That’s up from $1.5 million each during the 2013-2014 election cycle, according to internal party documents published in 2014 by BuzzFeed.

Subcommittee chairs on the four most influential committees are expected to raise $600,000 for the DCCC during the 2019-2020 election cycle, and subcommittee chairs of other committees are expected to raise $300,000, the new documents show. 

Meanwhile, rank-and-file Democrats on the four most influential committees are generally expected to raise $550,000 for the DCCC, and rank-and-file Democrats on other committees are generally expected to raise $275,000. 

Those figures are also substantial increases from just a few years earlier.

As Issue One highlighted in its “The Price of Power” and “The Continuing ‘Price of Power’” reports, both political parties are guilty of this practice.

Presently, the precise amounts that House Republicans are expected to raise is not known. But in 2017, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) revealed that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) expected the top Republicans on the Appropriations, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, and Ways and Means committees to each raise $1.2 million for the NRCC during the 2017-2018 election cycle.

That was up from $990,000 during the 2013-2014 election cycle, according to internal party documents obtained by conservative author Peter Schweizer, which he published in his book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.

Other House Republicans are generally expected to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the NRCC, according to Buck and the documents obtained by Schweizer.

In the wake of The Intercept’s story, some Republican lawmakers tweeted their outrage, including Reps. Tim Burchett (R-TN) and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

“This is a horribly corrupt system. Both parties need to clean the system up,” wrote Burchett.

“Beltway reporters say ‘no big deal,’ yet constituents are always shocked to hear how committee seats are sold for campaign cash,” added Massie.