If elected office is now a permanent campaign with little time for actual governance, then it stands to reason that every opportunity is a fundraising opportunity. Still when the President turns a decision about a US military strike on a country that used chemical weapons on its own people, one would hope that is a moment where the campaigning can stop and legislators get down to business doing the country’s business.
Only it seems that it isn’t. The President seems poised to lose the House vote on his Syria resolution, prompting Rep. Michael Grimm of New York to switch his “yes” vote to a “no” vote. He and many other members of Congress say that their constituents are vastly against involvement in Syria. Rep. Grimm says that his change in position is simply carrying out his mandate to represent the views of his district; it also proved to be an excellent opportunity to play on anti-Obama sentiments amongst his base for a fundraising-kick.
The Congressman’s press secretary Carol Danko has since blamed the vendor they use for fundraising and marketing for including the “dollar ask” without approval from the Congressman’s office. “[Congressman Grimm] is furious over this inappropriate inclusion and has taken appropriate actions to ensure that this careless error never happens again,” she said.
However, this isn’t the only fundraising headache Rep. Grimm has had this month. A former fundraiser for him, Ofer Biton, pled guilty in federal court for lying on a visa application and is part of a criminal probe into Rep. Grimm and whether or not he accepted foreign money or abused contribution limits.
The lingering question is whether Rep. Grimm is an anomaly or simply part of a larger problem with the dominant role fundraising has taken not just in politics but in governance itself.