Commuting to Congress: Episode 2

Congressman John Sarbanes discusses the possible negative mental/emotional effects Super PACs many have on members of Congress.


This is John Sarbanes with The View from Inside and Outside the Nation’s Capital. Inside, because, I’m one of the members of Congress who’s got an insider’s perspective, but outside, because, I’m one of those who can come home every night and look back on Washington, D.C. and kind of put it in perspective. Today I wanted to talk to you about what I call “money drones.” It’s my phrase to refer to super PACs out there and I’ve been talking a lot about money in politics. And I use that term, “money drones,” because if you’re a candidate or a member of Congress and you’re walking down the sidewalk, just running your campaign, suddenly you might hear a humming sound behind you, and next thing you know, one of these super PACs has dropped a half million dollar payload on your head of negative advertising and that’s the end of you, politically. I was at a conference recently at Duke, at the Sanford School of Public Policy, and one of the students, after I described these money drones, actually asked a pretty insightful question. They didn’t want to know about the effect on a campaign, they didn’t want to really know about sort-of the money equation so much. What they asked was, “How does it affect you mentally and emotionally if you’re a member of Congress and you have to worry about these strikes from these money drones, from these super PACs coming in?” It’s a great question. I’m one of the members of Congress who’s in a district where I don’t need to worry as much about one of these super PAC attacks, although, frankly, there’s no member of Congress who can ignore them. So it maybe hasn’t affected me directly, in terms of agitating my mental and emotional state, but I can certainly say that there are colleagues of mine who face this kind of opposition, this kind of onslaught every time they run their campaigns every two years. And there’s no question that it’s affecting them, there’s no question that it’s affecting their world view. It makes them nervous, it makes them anxious, it makes them wonder whether they’re going to be able to last in the job that they’re trying to do in representing people. So, there’s something perverse about this new impact, or influence, of super PACs on our system and we have to do something about it. So I’m going to continue to talk about these issues and concerns, but I wanted to mention in particular that question that I got from that student in North Carolina because I think she hit it right on the head when she raised that question. Again, this is John Sarbanes with The View from Inside and Outside the Nation’s Capital. I hope you’ll continue to listen in to our podcasts. If you want to learn more information about what we’re doing to fight back against big money in politics, you can go to And if you want to follow us on Twitter, our handle is at GrassrootsDonor. Again, we look forward to hearing from you with any questions you have you can email us at and we hope you’ll join our future podcasts.