Episode 91: Congress and…the mafia?

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle send thousands to party dons.

It’s no secret that members of Congress spend much of their time raising money. But here’s something you probably didn’t know: A huge chunk of the money they haul in is not spent on their campaigns. It’s funneled directly to the political parties in the form of dues.

On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Andrea Seabrook explains how Congress works a little like another organized group when it comes to money, power and loyalty — the mafia. There are no Don Corleones, of course, in the strict sense of the name, and there’s nothing illegal. Still, members are expected to pay up.

Seabrook talks to former members of Congress and other players in the Washington political game about the hundreds of thousands of dollars members must collect to satisfy the party leadership. It is an enormous amount of political power — even by Washington standards — to have streams of money flowing up, up, up into the control of a few at the top of the party.

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