MORE PLEDGE WEEK….Last night, a commenter asked me why a magazine like the Washington Monthly needs to have a fundraising drive in the first place. It’s a good question with a simple answer: it’s because political magazines are historically unprofitable ventures. This is true of just about every political magazine you’ve ever heard of. Subscriptions and advertising don’t come close to covering the cost of salaries, office space, printing, postage, and so forth, so we all look for additional sources of revenue, which mainly consists of foundation support and fundraising drives. Without them, we can’t stay in business.

So that’s why we ask for donations periodically: It keeps the magazine running and it keeps this blog on the air. So if you like what we do here, throw some coin our way. We’ll put it to good use. As always, you can donate via check, PayPal, or credit card. Just click here.

Now, one way that we don’t raise money is by taking bribes from shady business folks and then wrapping the cash in tin foil and stashing it in the the office refrigerator. We leave that up to guys like congressman “Dollar” Bill Jefferson of Louisiana, profiled in our current issue by veteran New Orleans writer Jason Berry. Jefferson’s motivation? He did it all for his family:

By the late 1980s, Jefferson the civil rights idealist had devolved into a standard-issue machine politician. In his case, his political organization relied heavily on the Jefferson clan. Having found a reliable client in the historically black Southern University system, Bill helped his wife take a seat on the system’s supervisory board, a position fraught with enough conflict-of-interest possibilities to raise a furor in any state but Louisiana. He helped his brother Archie look for investment opportunities after Archie had lost his law practice for borrowing against client accounts to support a drug habit. (The state supreme court disbarred Archie for issuing worthless checks and criticized him for “a fundamental lack of moral character and fitness.”)

Jefferson’s older brother, Mose, renowned for whirlwind installations of cardboard political signs about the city, began operating low-income rental properties in Central City that would dovetail with Bill Jefferson’s political interests. And in the 1980s, Bill teamed up with five of his ten siblings to form Jefferson Interests, a company that ran stores specializing in appliance rentals to the poor. Jefferson even sponsored a bill that would allow such stores to file theft charges against renters who failed to return the appliances on time. The bill failed.

Read the whole thing.