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Swamp Stories

Author: Issue One

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A new series brought to you by Issue One that dives into political reform with a conservative lens. It follows our host Weston Wamp — millennial Republican and former candidate for Congress — as he shines a light on the swampiest practices in Washington that repulse Republicans and Democrats alike: Slush funds in Congress, dark money in elections, gerrymandered districts, foreign interference in our elections, dialing for dollars, and more. Voices from the left and right are accompanied by leading reformers who discuss bipartisan solutions to fixing the broken political system and how to take back our government. Swamp Stories is part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what's broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.
31 Episodes
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Trailer: Swamp Stories

Trailer: Swamp Stories

2020-01-0338:459

Issue One is the leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, uniting Republicans, Democrats, and independents to fix our broken system. More info at IssueOne.org.
1. Cashing In

1. Cashing In

2020-01-2724:354

In 2003, PhRMA and other special interests in Washington overcame conservative opposition in Congress — including then-Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and others —  to pass the largest social welfare program in a generation, Medicare Part D (the prescription drug program). But what nobody knew at the time was one member of Congress in particular was cashing in and preparing to walk through the revolving door to work for the pharmaceutical industry.Guests:Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) & former Heritage Foundation PresidentFormer Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) & Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairIssue One Executive Director Meredith McGeheeMore show notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter. Follow Weston Wamp on Twitter.
During their orientation on Capitol Hill, new members of Congress learn about a decades-old tradition often referred to as dialing for dollars, or dues. Political leaders effectively turn newly elected lawmakers into telemarketers — exchanging seats on committees for contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes millions, to the political parties.Guests:Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)Former Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA) & Former DCCC ChairIssue One Research Director Michael BeckelMore show notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter. Follow Weston Wamp on Twitter.
3. Secret Slush Funds

3. Secret Slush Funds

2020-02-1022:406

Little-known slush funds let elected leaders vacation at five-star resorts, spend tens of thousands of dollars at steakhouses steps from the Capitol, and upgrade their wardrobe one pair of shoes at a time — all under the guise of “fundraising.” But learn about why living lavishly leads to one member of Congress being thrown in jail, and others treating it as business as usual.GuestsFormer Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)Issue One Legislative Director Tyler ColeMore show notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter. Follow Weston Wamp on Twitter.
Billionaires, political consultants, and the super PACs have more control in our political system than ever. And both parties are playing the game to win. Here’s how to begin fixing it.GuestsMark McKinnon, former George W. Bush & John McCain political advisor, Host of SHOWTIME's "The Circus" Trevor Potter, former Federal Election Commission Chair & Campaign Legal Center Founder and PresidentMore show notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter. Follow Weston Wamp on Twitter.
“Politicians should not choose their voters.” That simple statement is at the heart of why no reform issue has gained more crosspartisan momentum in recent years than getting rid of so-called gerrymandering. But both parties have years of work and millions of dollars invested in drawing districts that benefit one team more than the other.Guests: Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and former presidential candidateKatie Fahey, The People, Executive DirectorJosh Silver, Represent.Us, Executive DirectorMore show notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter. Follow Weston Wamp on Twitter.
6. Dark Money Shell Game

6. Dark Money Shell Game

2020-03-0226:084

In 2010, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to record amounts of secret cash flowing into our elections. Here’s how it works - and why we have to stop it.Guests:Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK)Anna Massoglia, Center for Responsive Politics, ResearcherMore show notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter. Follow Weston Wamp on Twitter.
This is a guest episode from the "Democracy Works" podcast. Swamp Stories will return  on March 16 with a new episode. Full notes at www.swampstories.org. Follow Issue One on Twitter.
7. Beating the Machine

7. Beating the Machine

2020-03-1619:033

Conventional wisdom says the candidate who has the most money wins on election night. But that’s not always true, and we’ll talk about how David has beaten Goliath in recent years as candidates turn to small-dollar fundraising, digital-first campaigns, and grassroots armies to beat the system.
In 2016 and 2018, foreign actors including Russia, China, and Iran interfered in our elections and tried to disrupt our political system. Here’s how we can stop them from succeeding in 2020.Guests:Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN), Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-ChairNick Penniman, Issue One Founder and CEOLiz Howard, Counsel, Brennan Center’s Democracy ProgramLearn more about Issue One's "Don't Mess With US" project and solutions to help prevent foreign interference in our political system at https://www.dontmesswithus.org.You can find all episodes of Swamp Stories at https://www.swampstories.org.
Recent news reports have exposed that some members of Congress dumped stock after receiving classified congressional briefings on COVID-19. We're going to talk about how lawmakers are able to use their positions of power for personal financial gain through insider trading — and what Congress can do to stop it.Episode Guests:Former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairMeredith McGehee, Issue One Executive DirectorResources:Issue One Report: The Ethics Blind Spot (February 2018)How Congress can prevent conflicts of interest (April 2020)Insider Trading by Members of Congress Must Be Stopped (April 2020)
10. The Show Must Go On

10. The Show Must Go On

2020-04-2414:421

One of the biggest challenges COVID-19 poses to our democracy? Holding safe, secure, and fair elections this year. Our democracy is at risk if states don’t adequately prepare for the various threats that this viral outbreak presents to the smooth running of our elections. In this episode, we talk with leading voices at the state and national level about how coronavirus affects voting, the task ahead for states and election administrators, and how our elections can be held safely this year.Guests:Michael Steele, Former Republican National Committee ChairDenise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the StateAdditional Resources:Op-ed: “How Congress must aid states to ensure safe and secure elections” (April 2020)Washington Post: We need to pay for our democracy (March 2020)Issue One applauds downpayment on voting assistance in stimulus bill, calls on Congress to provide more resources in future measures (March 2020)Letter from Michael Steele and the U.S. Vote Foundation to the Senate Rules Committee urging funding for state (March 2020)Bipartisan Policy Center: The November Presidential Election Needs Emergency Federal Funding (March 2020)National Conference of State Legislatures: State Laws Governing Early Voting
We joined some of our fellow Democracy Group members for a special bonus episode about COVID-19's impact on politics at the local, state, national, and international levels.On this episode:Jenna Spinelle: Host of Democracy WorksLuke Knittig: Host of In the ArenaJeremi Suri: Host of This is DemocracyRachel Tausenfreund: Host of Out of OrderWeston Wamp: Host of Swamp Stories
Congressional approval ratings have been at an all-time low in recent years. But a small group of members in Congress — and dedicated political reform groups — are trying to turn that around and make Congress more functional and responsive to the American people. This week, we’re taking you behind the scenes for an up-close look at one of the few bright spots in Washington — the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.This episode has been updated with additional information.Guest List:Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Chairman of the Select Committee on the Modernization of CongressRep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of CongressRep. William Timmons (R-SC), Member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of CongressBetsy Wright Hawkings, Managing Partner, Article One Advisors, LCCErin Hustings, Legislative Counsel, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)J.B. Lyon, Co-founder of the Rebuild Congress Initiative; Managing Director of Mt. Independent InvestmentsBruce Patton, Co-founder of the Rebuild Congress Initiative; Co-founder of the Harvard Negotiation Project and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
12. Shadow Lobbying

12. Shadow Lobbying

2020-06-0118:482

The influence industry looms large in policymaking in Washington, DC, and the big players are lobbyists. Because of legal loopholes, more people than ever who make a living lobbying Congress are skirting the rules with impunity to avoid registering as a lobbyist and wearing the scarlet "L." On episode 12, Weston wades into the world of “shadow lobbying” to give listeners an inside look into what lobbying actually means, how influencers are able to easily get around the rules, and introduces us to a Republican and a Democrat who are working to close loopholes to ensure that the way decisions are made is transparent for Americans.Guests:Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA)Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN)
13. Hidden Trillions

13. Hidden Trillions

2020-06-2515:431

The CARES Act, which was signed into law in March, was intended to help with the crippling economic effects America was experiencing due to COVID-19. But it also opened the floodgates to a lobbying frenzy by big businesses attempting to influence where funds should go. In episode 13, Weston looks at those efforts to shape the CARES Act, and the critical importance of ensuring that these kind of programs are transparent and that taxpayers can see where their money is going. Guests:Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN)Danielle Brian, Project on Government Oversight Executive Director
We’re introducing the first episode in a periodic series of conversations between Swamp Stories host Weston Wamp and leaders in the political reform movement. This episode's guest: Nick Penniman, Founder and CEO of Issue One
At the end of its 2020 term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on what might seem like an obscure question in Constitutional law, but could have huge ramifications in elections this November and beyond. Democracy Works, Swamp Stories' partner in the Democracy Group podcast network, dives into the ruling on “faithless electors” in this episode featuring Issue One’s Executive Director Meredith McGehee.
Host Weston Wamp examines the history of conservatives opposing political reform over the years, and looks at how a new wave of Republican reformers is turning the tide when it comes to fixing the political system. Listen to this episode to hear Weston speak with some of these reformers, including a member of Congress, to build the conservative case for reform.Guests: Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI)Luke Knittig, Senior Director of Communications at the McCain InstituteJohn Pudner, Executive Director of Take Back our RepublicNilmini Rubin, Co-Founder of Fix the System
16. Whistleblowers

16. Whistleblowers

2020-08-3120:121

A unique bipartisan group of over 200 former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet officials has come together to build off their experiences while in office and advocate for solutions to fix our broken political system. Weston chats with a few of these ReFormers about their time in Washington, their personal swamp stories, and what they’re doing to help increase transparency, improve civic participation, and make our political leaders more accountable to the American people.Guests:Former Amb. Connie Morella (R-MD), Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairFormer Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN), Issue One ReFormers Caucus Co-chairFormer Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), Issue One ReFormers Caucus Member
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Comments (15)

Joel Brockenberry

this podcast is not stories about the swamp, but rather stories either by swamp creatures, or by those whose hearts are with the swamp. I thought that the title was tongue in cheek, but alas these guys are seriously repeating the most absurd statement ever made about an election. it would be silly to make such a statement, even if there were not countless anomalies, irregularities, and blatant disregard on election night

Mar 28th
Reply

Joel Brockenberry

After this one, "Swamp Stories" is Canceled!!

Feb 8th
Reply (2)

E J

👍👍

Oct 13th
Reply (1)

E J

Great public resource. Everybody should listen to this.

Sep 14th
Reply (4)

Michael Metz

First, great show(s). At the same time makes me sick to hear about all the sludge. To me, some simple first steps: 1. No lobbyist (or strict conditions) 2. Whe congress goes on recess how come they don't have townhall meetings (I know some do; I've seen the news). 3. Bills, keep them simple. If submitting something about infrastucture don't stick something in about overseas issues. Anyway, keep up the good work.

May 25th
Reply

E J

Wow! Very informative

Mar 2nd
Reply

E J

Geez, I wonder how long this has been going on. I always knew politicians could not be trusted, but this is terribly overt of them. It seems like they believe they are "the anointed", like they deserve to be able to do this kind of cheating, left and right alike. We really deserve better representation.

Feb 24th
Reply (1)
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