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25 Secrets Your Congressperson Won’t Tell You

From campaign contributions to the secrets behind lobbyists, we got the dirt on what Washington insiders don't talk about.

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“When I was first elected to the Iowa Senate, I believed if I was right on principle, all I had to do was make a principled argument, and I’d sway people to my side.”

I tell people about that belief today, and they laugh at me.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

“If you can see it on C-SPAN, it’s probably not real.”

Most decision making takes place off camera. On TV, we’re really role-playing, not debating. We haven’t had a real debate in a very long time.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

"In many cases, lobbyists write the bills.”

When you have a high-profile issue like a health-care bill, there are five or ten lobbyists per congressperson, and they have a tremendous amount of influence.

Former representative Alan Grayson (D-FL), who served from 2009 to 2011

“Here’s an observation: The women in Congress are more bipartisan than the men."

The men in Congress have this baseball game they play for charity ... Republicans against Democrats. When women started a softball game for the same purpose, we decided to play together, with the media as our opponent.

Former representative Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), who served from 2009 to 2011

Check out these empowering quotes from women in politics.

“Most of the staffers on the Hill are in their early- or mid-20s."

It might mortify the American public, but those are really the people running the country.

Amy Ellsworth, a former congressional aide

“Want a sense of how engaged and effective your member of Congress is?"

Go to thomas.loc.gov to see how many bills he or she has introduced and how many got passed. There are members in there who’ve gotten no bills passed for a decade.

Former representative Alan Grayson

"As soon as you get to Washington, whether you’re a new Republican or a new Democrat, your party pulls you off into a retreat and brainwashes you."

They say the No. 1 thing you can do is to defeat the other team. Everything they tell you is through a political prism: "What can we do to win?"

A former congressman from the Southeast who served more than ten years

Here are some more government secrets that the US government tried to keep hidden.

“When you vote, you’re often choosing a congressperson for life."

Maybe it’s not what you intend, but the districts are so gerrymandered, that’s essentially what you’re doing. Most members of Congress leave only when they retire, they die, or they run for higher office.

Former representative Alan Grayson

“I had [lobbying] groups physically tear up checks in front of my eyes."

They didn’t like how I was going to vote.

Former representative Brian Baird (D-WA), who served from 1999 to 2011

“Your calls and e-mails do matter, probably more than you think."

We have a system to track every call and e-mail and how many people are for or against something. Before they go to the floor to vote, members ask for those numbers.

A former senior congressional aide for two GOP House members

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