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David Jolly: Peeling back the curtain

My name is David Jolly. I’m a sitting Member of Congress and the current Republican front runner to replace Marco Rubio in the United States Senate. I’m about to share with you two truths.

The first truth is every Member of Congress is expected to spend more time raising money than they are solving the problems you elected them to fix.

The second truth is this: I’m not going to do it. And if legislation I’m introducing today passes, no Member of Congress can ever do it again.

You see, Americans wonder why we haven’t defeated ISIS, secured our border, provided health care for veterans, or balanced our
 budget. Here’s why: Too many people in Washington are more focused on raising money than doing the job you elected them to do.

Let me peel back the curtain.

It hasn’t even been two years since I was first elected to represent Florida’s Tampa Bay region in Congress. It was a special election where my Democratic opponent outraised me 3 to 1, where President Barack Obama had won twice previously, and where some in the GOP establishment turned their backs on me just days before the final votes were tallied.

Conceding that Washington has a money problem is not a new idea, but now I’ve lived it firsthand. And what you may not know is how much time decent, law‐abiding members of Congress spend every day dialing for dollars — telling you, the voters who elected them, that they need your money. Even more disturbing, this daily recess from doing their official job is openly encouraged and, based on precedent, actually required.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently greeted an incoming crop of freshmen with a prescribed schedule that highlighted fundraising “Call Time” of four hours a day as the chief priority for any new member of Congress. The actual time they suggested working in Congress each day: two hours! Every American should be outraged.

Unfortunately, the same standard also goes for congressional
 lifers. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle confessed that “a senator has to raise $10,000 every day they’re in office — every day of their six years” ‐ just to get re-elected.

Just this month, retiring Congressman Steve Israel, who ironically chaired the fundraising arm of the Democratic Party, lamented that he spent about 4,200 hours on the telephone asking people for money and attended more than 1,600 fundraisers while in office.

Think about it.

Instead of focusing all their attention on solutions to improve your economic security or our country’s national security, too many of our elected officials are prioritizing a whole different kind of security: their personal job security.

We can’t have a part-time Congress in a full-time world.

That quiet truth cuts the deepest each time we witness a terror threat like we saw in San Bernardino, or each time government fails our veterans, or each year we watch our national debt explode. Think about it. Our nation is under siege by ISIS, and yet as my party’s best bet to win a U.S. Senate seat in Florida, I’m expected to be fighting for your safety from a fundraising call suite at party headquarters.

I won’t do it.

It’s time members of Congress stop asking you for money and start doing their jobs.

That’s why I’m introducing legislation called “The Stop Act.” It simply says that no member of Congress may personally ask you for money.

It doesn’t mean that you as a citizen can’t contribute to a candidate. It’s your constitutional right of political speech to do so.

But let’s close the integrity gap and the performance gap of our elected officials by eliminating their fundraising solicitations and put them back to work doing the people’s business: protecting our homeland, creating jobs, reducing the debt, standing up for law enforcement, and doing real constituent service work that benefits you.

This simple fix already applies to judicial elections in 30 states across the country. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a Florida statute that bans judicial candidates from personally asking their supporters for campaign contributions, rightfully declaring that a “state’s decision to elect judges does not compel it to compromise public confidence in their integrity.”

Why should Congress be held to a weaker standard?

That’s why I am asking you to join me in this effort to change Washington forever. Contact your representative and tell them to sign The Stop Act. Tell them to stop asking you for money, and get back to work.

This may make a lot of folks in Washington uncomfortable, but it’s about time.

• • •

U.S. Rep. David Jolly represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

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