Anyone seeking a seat in Congress knows fundraising is a fact of life. But a 60 Minutes report this weekend showed many federal lawmakers, like U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisconsin) feel the pressure to produce is a bit overwhelming.
After three terms in Congress, Reid Ribble is calling it quits. One thing he won’t miss is the constant pressure to fundraise.
“For many it is self-preservation,” said Ribble. “Even trying to get elected the first time, you’re spending an inordinate amount of time having to raise money.”
A 60 Minutes report Sunday focused on the issue of fundraising on Capitol Hill in the wake of the U.S Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows political groups to spend unlimited amounts on ads to support or attack candidates.
“If members would be candid there is a lot of frustration centered around it,” Rep. Ribble told 60 Minutes, when asked if he was the only one upset by the political reality.
Ribble says daily fundraising is suggested by both political parties and time for it is worked into every member’s schedule by party leadership.
But since federal law specifies these lawmakers can’t fundraise from their offices, both parties have set-up call centers for members to use.
“I know that a lot of members are spending as much as two to three hours a day,” said Ribble. “I probably spent eight to 10 hours a week in my first term raising the money.”
Money supporting both the candidate and the candidate’s party.
“If you don’t contribute to the party then you can’t use the space,” Ribble said.
But frustrated with a system which took time away from serving constituents – Ribble found his own way to fundraise by building personal relationships, instead of making cold calls.
“I completely reinvented how to do fundraising so that a member didn’t have to get caught in that trap,” said Ribble.
And he’s urging fellow lawmakers to remember why they were elected in the first place.
“You have to have an adequate amount of money to get your message out. But what I never bought into was the fact I had to have more money all the time,“ Ribble said.
Representative Reid Ribble has co-sponsored a bill that would prevent federal – elected officials from directly soliciting for donations – as through phone calls. But the Republican doubts it will pass.