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.
33. Drawing the Lines
Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census has been completed, congressional and state legislative districts are redrawn across the country in a process known as redistricting. However, districts are often “gerrymandered” by politicians, creating oddly-shaped districts that frequently don’t make any sense, all in an effort to keep their party in power.
As redistricting began a few months ago, the process in Texas received a lot of attention — with two new congressional districts due to population increases and a narrow Democratic majority in Congress, every seat counts.
“Swamp Stories” partnered with the Texas-based Sumners Foundation to dive into the competing perspectives about how redistricting could be more fairly and thoughtfully carried out. Although Texas’ map was drawn and signed into law since we recorded this episode, it’s chock full of great insights into the process — in Texas and across the country.
32. The Other 97% of Congress
Much of the time when we talk and think about Congress, we don’t consider all the work that happens behind the scenes. Without the congressional staffers who constitute 97% of the legislative branch, legislating would be impossible. But, their ability to do this job is often hobbled by extremely low pay, leading to poor staff retention, low diversity, and ultimately, preventing Congress from fulfilling its oversight role.
In episode 32, Weston explores the money allocated to members of Congress to run their offices and analyzes how this limited budget is used — or sometimes not used — and what can be done about it.
31. Regularly Given
How did the attack on the U.S. Capitol happen on January 6th? There are lots of reasons, and many congressional committees and federal agencies are investigating. But there is one contributing factor that’s easy to fix — update the Electoral Count Act (ECA), a law passed in 1887 that spells out Congress’ role in counting the Electoral College votes every four years.
But, despite having clear legislative intent at the time, the ECA is ambiguous, out of date, and contributed to the electoral chaos that we saw this year.
In episode 31, Weston talks with two experts on the Electoral Count Act about how this arcane legislation came to be, how it gave rise to confusion and misinterpretation about Congress’ role in the 2020 presidential election, and why Congress must update it now.
30. Swindled and Scammed
There is an emerging trend in the world of political fundraising — grifters preying on the elderly and others with fake campaigns.
The worst part? There are barely any laws on the books to stop them.
In episode 30, Weston chats with Daily Beast reporter Roger Sollenberger about “scam PACs” and how they have been used to con unsuspecting Americans into contributing to fake causes and campaigns.
29. The Power of Megadonors
There’s no denying it: big money plays a massive role in American politics. In fact, since Citizens United, just 12 megadonors contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups — accounting for about $1 of every $13 in federal elections.
In episode 29, Weston is joined by an expert in the campaign finance research field to discuss the role of megadonors in today’s elections and what these wealthy elites’ influence could mean for our political system and democracy going forward.
28. Conversations: Former Rep. Donna Edwards
In episode 28 of Swamp Stories, Weston chats with former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) about what it was like being a member of Congress, how she would fix our broken political system, and the RV trip that she took across America alone after the 2016 election to better understand the rise of Donald Trump.
This is the fourth episode in our periodic series of longform conversations between host Weston Wamp and leaders in the political reform movement.
breath of fresh air.
Such a nice break from the swamp that is the media. True, helpful, and logical information coming to you from people who genuinely care about america.
Praise from Democracy in Danger
Reid Ribble’s honest evaluation of the shortcomings and potential of the United States Congress was refreshing. Usually “never-Trump” Republicans such as Ribble are asked about how they differ from the former President and what they plan to do to take the party back. But on this show, Ribble was given a chance to elaborate on what we all need to do to take our country back from politicians of both parties who care more about raising money for re-election than they care about the right to vote and the deficit.
Weston Wamp has Swag
Swamp Stories has a rhythm to it. Weston Wamp tackles controversial topics of corruption with a bipartisan perspective. But the coolest thing is this has such a slick and fun presentation. It’s an enjoyable listen.