“We sat behind closed doors at one of the party headquarters’ backrooms in front of a whiteboard where the equation was drawn out,” Rep. David Jolly (R-FL13) described to 60 Minutes. “You have six months until the election. Break that down to having to raise $2 million in the next six months, and your job, new member of Congress, is to raise $18,000 a day. Your first responsibility is to raise $18,000 a day.”
Jolly has introduced the bill H.R. 4443, the Stop Act, to combat this problem. It would prohibit federal politicians, notably Members of Congress, from personally soliciting contributions for any federal election activity.
(Unlike most similarly-titled congressional bills, that’s not an acronym and isn’t short for anything. It’s just, quite simply, the Stop Act.)
What supporters say
“We can’t have a part-time Congress in a full-time world,” said Jolly in the press release announcing the bill’s introduction. “Too many in Congress are more focused on raising money than solving the problems people elected them to fix.”
While federal officials would not be allowed to ask for campaign donations, the campaigns themselves would still be allowed to. Citizens would still be allowed to contribute to any campaign of their choosing. Jolly also noted that this ban already exists for judicial elections in 30 states, a practice the Supreme Court recently upheld when it was challenged in Florida.
Some Members of Congress spend as much as 30 hours a week soliciting campaign contributions, an amount many consider far too high considering the more pressing public policy issues they should be dealing with. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who doesn’t appear to have weighed in on this specific bill, recently estimated that two-thirds of his time in Congress was spent raising money. The Huffington Post published a secret document prepared by the Democratic Party advising its members to spend four hours a day fundraising.
The bill has six cosponsors, five Republicans and one Democrat: Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI7), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3), Rep. John Mica (R-FL7), Rep. Richard Nolan (D-MN8), Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL11), and Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI8).
What opponents say
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele, noting that Jolly introduced this bill the same week he launched his own Super PAC, called the bill “as laughable as it is cynical.” Conservative columnist Tom Jackson, of Florida’s second-largest newspaper the Tampa Tribune, suggested instead eliminating the caps on individual donations to candidates. That way, the $2 million Jolly referenced needing to raise could probably be collected in one day’s work with a few well-placed calls to like-minded millionaires back in a Congress member’s home district.
Jolly is running for the open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and one of his main rivals for the Republican nomination is fellow Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL6), who has implied that Jolly’s bill may be an attempt to distract from his poor fundraising for that office.