Making the Ask

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Politicians like to kiss babies, shake hands, and horn in on your breakfast at local diners. These days, though, candidates are spending a majority of their time locked up in a room with a telephone and a spreadsheet asking for money.


Today on Huffington Post, Al Franken, who’s running for Senate in Minnesota against incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), complains about all of the time he has to spend dialing for dollars. He’d rather spend all his time talking to consistuents—and public financing would make that possible. Franken says:


“But forcing candidates to spend their time and energy dialing for dollars instead of engaging with citizens cheats candidates and voters alike.


"It cheats elected officials, too. With public financing, members of Congress could spend their time meeting with constituents, discussing policy problems with experts, and, you know, READING the legislation they're voting on. And we wouldn't have any more earmarks snuck in in the middle of the night, $231 million "Bridges to Nowhere," or stupid giveaways to big corporate interests. Also, I wouldn't have to keep asking you for money all the time.


"That's why, when I'm in the Senate, I'll push for public financing of elections. But in the meantime, I have to go call a guy in Wayzata who's got some kind of hedge fund or something."


Fortunately for Al, if he makes it to the Senate, there will already be a bill to work on – the Fair Elections Now Act. Until then, Al and other candidates will be hold up in a small room crouched over a telephone and the latest donor file.