In the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver went hard on the topic of congressional fundraising in light of the presidential campaign.
Oliver pointed out the absurdity of congressional fundraising, noting that congressmen can spend as much as two-thirds of their time raising money.
A statistic revealed that there were 2,810 fundraisers in 2013 to 2014, and many politicians have claimed that fundraising is the “worst part of their job.”
Oliver then went on to analyze the different kinds of fundraisers, including campaigns at restaurants and pop concerts.
“Fundraisers are such an integral part of the D.C. economy, some restaurants derive a decent chunk of their income just from hosting,” he said, playing footage shot in seafood restaurant Johnny’s Half Shell, which has hosted at least 948 political fundraisers in the last 10 years.
U.S. representative Don Beyer even held a fundraiser at a Taylor Swift concert, said Oliver.
The host also dissected politicians’ call centers, where many spend up to four hours a day on the phone with donors.
“If you want to get money out of a bunch of jerks you’ve never heard of before, you shouldn’t have to call them on the phone when you could simply open a vape shop,” Oliver said.
Oliver then played video of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), in which he said he only calls constituents who can donate at least $1,000.
“It cannot help but affect how you see the world, if you’re only calling donors rich enough that their main concerns are estate taxes or which Belgian kimono their cat will wear that day,” Oliver added.
To get more of an inside idea of what these fundraising tactics and call centers look like, Oliver sat down with Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), who claims he had over 1,600 fundraising events, including an 8:30 a.m. breakfast at Johnny’s Half Shell, Long Island Pizza Nights and Long Island Cigar Tasting.
Israel described what these call centers look like and the process of calling people for donations, calling it “a form of torture.”
“The real victims of this torture have become the American people, because they believe they don’t have a voice in this system.”
To end the episode, Oliver took a swig from a bottle of Long Island Wine — in a bag.