Host Ira Glass plays a voicemail containing something very common but very rare to hear: an elected official directly asking a lobbyist for money. (4 minutes)
Act One. The Hamster Wheel.
's Alex Blumberg and NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook
take a tour through the world of money and politics, discovering just how much time members of congress spend raising money and which committee assignments yield the biggest campaign donations. They also try to figure out what all this money is actually buying.
For an interactive map of Washington DC fundraiser locations, charts of the best and worst types of fundraisers, and other online extras, visit Planet Money's website
. (27 minutes)
Act Two. PAC Men.
Everything about political fundraising is changing right now, because of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. Since then, "Super PACs" have been able to funnel huge amounts of anonymous money into races. Producer Ben Calhoun shares the example of Ami Bera, whose run for Congress was dramatically affected by money from a Super PAC. (15 minutes).
Song: "If You've Got The Money, I've Got the Time", Jo Stafford
Act Three. The O.G.s
Ten years ago, Congress voted to reform campaign finance, after Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold took up the cause. Here they reunite on the radio, to reminisce and lament how that reform failed. Senator Feingold is author of the book While America Sleeps
. (7 1/2 minutes).