CBS Placed Hidden Cameras In Call Center That Politicians Use To Make Millions. What They Capture…

CBS Placed Hidden Cameras In Call Center That Politicians Use To Make Millions. What They Capture…

Many Americans may be surprised to learn that members of Congress spend as much as four hours per day at call centers trying to raise money from constituents. Norah O’Donnell, one of the “60 Minutes” reporters who broke the story, said that she was a reporter on Capitol Hill for years and had no idea that the call centers existed. Most members of the public do not either.

According to some people in Congress, new arrivals are told that their first priority is raising money. Rep. David Jolly of Florida was told he had to raise $18,000 per day. A large board at the Republican call center visited by “60 Minutes” listed the amount raised by each member of Congress.

“60 Minutes” was told they could not bring cameras into the call centers, so they brought in a hidden camera. The news show would not comment on the identity of the source who helped them get the camera in or what the person’s motive was. They also would not say exactly how they disguised the cameras. However, they said that they had consulted extensively with their attorneys. One of the strictures they had to abide by was that they could not lie or mislead anyone about who they were, but this did not arise over the course of the investigation. They also did not show any faces that could be identified. O’Donnell said that she felt the filming was important on behalf of American taxpayers who pay the salaries of the members of Congress.

The call centers, which are located across the street from Congress, are used because members of Congress are not permitted to make fundraising calls from their own offices. However, some are beginning to protest this way of doing things although they are meeting with resistance. Rep. Jolly has refused to make the calls and is working to bring in legislation to put a stop to the practice, but he is finding little support.

Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat from Minnesota who represented his constituency for three terms starting in 1974 and then returned in 2013, says that this was not the case when he was in office in the 1970s. He says that he no longer recognizes what Capitol Hill has become.

However, the former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Steve Israel, says that the phone calls are critical. Israel says he hates that the calls are necessary, but the Citizens United decision of 2010 resulted in so much money making its way into politics that they have no choice. The example he gives is of a politician who faces smears by an opponent and needs money in order to fight back against the allegations.

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