John Oliver Explains the “Dehumanizing Process” and Political Costs of Congressional Fundraising

On the latest Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took on the business of congressional fundraising and the overwhelming amount of time lawmakers spend just to raise money—a grueling task many politicians cite as the worst part of their jobs.

“In the 2014 election cycle, candidates for the House and Senate raised a combined $1.7 billion dollars,” Oliver explained. “That’s a lot of money. That’s more than it costs to buy 213 million tubes of hemorrhoidal cooling gel, and it’s somehow even more upsetting.”

Another reason politicians endlessly fundraise is partly because of hefty membership dues required by some political groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—dues that can range from $125,000 to a whopping $800,000, according to Oliver.

“Is it any wonder that politicians are hitting up their customer base harder than a Girl Scout with gambling debts?”

Oliver goes on to break down how all that time is spent—from attending depressing fundraisers to cold-calling donors for hours a day—and he explains why neither side of the aisle is willing to fix the problem.


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

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