U.S. Rep. David Jolly has a big idea in a little four-page bill. The Indian Shores Republican wants to ban federal officeholders from directly seeking campaign contributions. It’s a long shot in an election-year Congress whose members are obsessed with raising money and self-preservation, but it is a serious proposal from a serious lawmaker that deserves careful consideration. Jolly takes a targeted, straightforward approach in the legislation he plans to roll out today. He argues that members of Congress spend far too much time raising money when they should be focused on governing, and there are plenty of statistics and examples that illustrate those skewed priorities. Incumbents from both parties calculate how many hours they have to spend on the phone raising money to keep their jobs, while this Congress has been one of the least productive in modern history.
There are other obvious reasons it would be smart to put some distance between fundraising and lawmaking. The connection between campaign contributions and public policy has been documented time and again. It would help if members of Congress could not directly solicit contributions, even if the incumbents’ campaigns could still do it for them. Jolly’s legislation does not take the big money out of elections or change existing contribution limits to campaigns, but at least it would keep the fundraising at arm’s length from incumbents and allow them to focus on their jobs.