Help! Who Wrote the Greatest Congressional Fundraising Story of All Time?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

In a post about the role of money in politics, Jonathan Bernstein tosses in this aside:

It’s absolutely ridiculous for Members of Congress to have built for themselves an expectation that they should spend four hours a day raising money.

(By the way: we have good reporting that such an expectation exists, and good reporting that Members spend way too much time raising money…but I have to admit I’m pretty skeptical of this four hours a day business. Do they really do that, day in, day out? Or do most of them reluctantly do a lot less (although still enough to cut way too much into their real jobs), but exaggerate it for the reporter’s notebook? Again, I’m not denying that it’s a big deal; just questioning the specific claim).

About eight or nine years ago (I think), someone wrote a phenomenal article about the life of a freshman member of Congress. As I recall, the reporter basically followed this guy around and documented the insane amount of time he spent on fundraising, including the two or three hours each evening spent in a basement cubicle provided by the RNC (or DNC). The cubicle contained a chair and a phone, and the congressman went down there daily armed with a list of a hundred calls to make, provided by his staff. And then he started dialing.

But where did this piece appear? The Washington Post? The New Republic? Those seem the most likely places to me, but I haven’t been able to find it in either place. And it’s a shame. It was a great piece, and I’ve wanted to reread it ever since. But I can’t remember who wrote it or where it appeared, and I also can’t remember enough unique search words to google it.

Help me, hive mind, you’re my only hope.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend