Norbert Richter, Founder
Media Contact: Jackie Jones, Jackie@TruthPR.com, 662-259-0988
Norbert Richter launched Fire Your Congressman after he considered running as a primary challenger against Rep.Ted Yoho, R-Fla. Richter said he found that the party inhibited challengers to the sitting representative by restricting fundraising opportunities and chances to engage with the incumbent in debates.
“A challenge to an incumbent is something very frowned upon and discouraged,” Richter said. “If both parties are discouraging involvement and primary challengers of the candidates… the representation starts to fail, and we’re witnessing that right now.”
Richter’s main goal, he said, is to bring accountability to Congress.
A new campaign political action committee aims to get ineffective incumbents out of office in the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.
Fire Your Congressman is a nonpartisan campaign fundraising organization that wants to help elect new candidates that normally wouldn’t have a chance against powerful incumbents.
The algorithm has not yet determined those lawmakers. According to the PAC, it will consider factors such as poor attendance, low numbers of bills sponsored and co-sponsored, time on committees, conflicts of interest, the time served in Congress and involvement in scandals. Any time of Congress after 20 years of service will count against lawmakers in the algorithm, Richter said. Seniority is not, however, the primary factor.
So far, the PAC has raised the most money against two Florida representatives, Yoho and Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. This is likely because the PAC is based in Florida and has more visibility there, Richter said.
It has also raised funds against 12 others, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (Ryan has announced he is retiring at the end of this year.)
Having funds available for challengers can help give them a foothold and make their campaigns more successful, Richter said. Fire Your Congressman is mainly for people to express their dissatisfaction with a representative and start to contribute against them even before an opposing candidate announces their run.
The group will choose which candidate to put contributions behind by working with the National Coalition for Congressional Accountability to vet candidates for every race it receives donations for in 2018. One of those methods will be by giving a proctored exam with civics questions.
Who the money is given to will have nothing to do with public popularity, Richter said.
“If we can bring more viable candidates to the elections, I think it will raise election participation rates because people actually feel like they have a choice,” Richter said.
Richter said he hopes to expand the vetting process to every U.S. congressional district in 2020.
The group also allows donors to work against an incumbent while still maintaining their relationships with them, Richter said. The PAC has to report the names of anyone who donates more than $200, but there is no method to report who the money is working against. According to Richer, this is important for some donors, like small businesses, who still want to work with the incumbent in Congress, but would prefer a different candidate in office.