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June 12th, 2014
10:13 PM ET

Keeping Them Honest: Putting a price tag on political leadership

The political gasbag crowd in Washington may focus directly on the upset primary loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.  But whomever wins the seat—Republican or Democrat—they’ll arrive at a House of Representatives not only raising money for themselves but for every other member of their party as well.

It’s more or less an open secret in Washington, but little known outside the Beltway.  Each incumbent member, no matter which political party, is expected to raise funds based on a sliding scale to help elect other members of his or her party. Critics, like Peter Schweizer, head of the watchdog group The Government Accountability Institute, call it a “pay to play” system. Leaders are expected to raise upwards of $500,000 each election cycle; committee chairs about $200,000 or so and then on downwards. Are you head of an important committee in the House?  That will cost you more. Committee assignments are rated “A”, “B” and “C”, with the “A” committee chairs expected to raise more than the people who chair the “C” committees.

CNN Investigations obtained some still photographs from inside the Republican National Campaign Committee showing to the penny how much money each member has raised to date, how much they are expected to raise and how far behind they may be.

Watch Senior Investigations Correspondent Drew Griffin unpeel the onion in Washington again, all part of AC360’s “Congress For Sale” series running all this year.

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Filed under: Congress • David Fitzpatrick • Drew Griffin • Keeping Them Honest
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. drtodp

    I agree with all of the posts above. We MUST get the money of influence out of our Government at all costs. It is treason and domestic terrorism in my book that these corporations, lobbyists and the wall street execs do almost everything against the common good of all people. This is what government is for, the masses and not the few that already have it all. Many of the wealthy make/made their money off the backs of the taxpayers or consumers. Even in the stock market we see them rape our retirement funds. Someones got to make money right?, might as well be those with the best access to the stock market. The rest of us that do not have time to watch our retirements funds just get screwed all the time by the leaders. They make us promises that they cannot keep to the general public workers, but they make sure that they will get their retirements. This includes all of those CEO's that have stolen from so many retirement funds it is ridiculous and so few get caught. We need TERM limits on all elected officials. We need to weed out those in permanent government positions that accept money from lobbyists also. We NEED much better oversight of the inner workings of our government from independent panels of citizens that use their free time to investigate and oversee everything. We need accountability. I hate to say this, but we need to put some limits on income because please explain the rational or need or having a billion dollars. All advertising for all people wanting to be an elected official should be equal and then let the best person win. No more political parties.

    June 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  2. thecryptowizard

    Senators and Representatives should earn a fair, but reasonable, wage for the work they do – and only while they're completely engaged in that work. They should not be paid when out of session, and should work "normal" (private sector) jobs like anyone else. Putting them on a pedestal with ridiculous salaries, exempt from certain requirements, has allowed them to protect their abusive ways of life. Enough is enough.

    June 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
  3. adriftandfaceless

    It is sad that there are no other comments cropping up here immediately. The soldier was ostracized by college students against Viet Nam in the 60's, as well as an ignoring Federal government. How many wars since started with hidden agendas? And we as Americans still do not try to understand or completely support our warriors. Yet, we are willing to sacrifice them for national grandiosity.

    I think the humiliation is systemic and will not change without a backlash similar to the late 60's. A movement that takes our government away from big money and the military complex. A movement that is not liberal, conservative, or full of the divisiveness we have now, but a movement focused on equality and inclusiveness.

    Warthog6 is right on this issue.

    June 13, 2014 at 11:45 am |
  4. warthog6

    If only disabled veterans were rich enough to get someone to take an interest in the VA, maybe we wouldn't be getting massacred by the very people commissioned to save us. The rich dominate our economy, our government, and now they're even dominating the VA–and just outright murdering us to keep themselves rich.

    Here's the problem with throwing veterans overboard: We don't actually go away like someone who is actually thrown overboard. We're still here.

    There are 20,000,000 veterans in this country, many who are already dealing with rage and betrayal, watching you rich people put our disabled veterans' mouth on a curb, and explain it all away with fancy wordplay. You're not fooling anyone. We know you've walked away with the Treasury, and now expect those who have protected your freedom with our blood to quietly stagger off to our doom to make you even richer.

    Watching officials using fancy wordplay to disguise their motives reminds me of scene from a movie where a man stepped into piranha infested waters, and smugly explained that as long as you don't have an open cut, you're completely safe–then was suddenly ripped apart by a massive feeding frenzy.

    So, yeah. You may have "thrown us overboard," but we're still here and we're watching. I'm stable and not someone who would take aggressive action, but I deal with a lot of other disabled veterans on a regular bases, and if you think pills and therapy are going to keep all of them from reacting strongly, you're profoundly mistaken.

    If you keep slapping around the piranha, you're going to find yourself in a feeding frenzy.

    June 13, 2014 at 8:38 am |

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