MAPlight helps you ‘follow the money’

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Reform

Years ago B and I dreamed about something called the “Senator From” project, based on the idea that, for example, Scoop Jackson used to be known as “the Senator from Boeing.” We’d take the public info available and identify the largest contributors to candidate and officeholder. Great idea, but we didn’t know how to execute on it given mid-90s technology and our limited knowhow at the time.
Now, TakeBackCA.org, a nonprofit dedicated to campaign finance reform, has remade itself as the MAPlight project to expose “connection between money and votes in California politics”:

Startling Findings Available at www.MAPLight.org

Berkeley, CA. October 17, 2006 – Today MAPLight.org unveiled a pioneering database that lays bare the connection between money and votes in California politics.

“Information that used to take days to dig up and connect is now available at the click of a mouse,” says Dan Newman, Executive Director of MAPLight.org. “How often did each legislator vote with the special interests that financed their election campaigns? MAPLight.org now provides the answers.”

The MAPLight.org website combines information from the Official California Legislative Information website, which contains the official text of each bill and how each legislator voted, and the Institute on Money in State Politics, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to accurate, comprehensive and unbiased documentation and research on campaign finance.

MAPLight.org allows journalists and citizens to answer questions such as:

  • How did a legislator vote on a particular bill, and who are the top contributors to that legislator?
  • How often did legislators vote to support bills their top contributors supported?
  • How often did special interests (such as insurance companies or drug companies) succeed in blocking bills that did not serve their interests?

“MAPLight.org is extremely flexible and easy to use,” said Newman. “You can approach your research in the way that is most interesting to you. You can browse through legislation either by the subject area or bill number that concerns you. Or you can start by looking at the special interests, or at the voting records. Soon we will have ‘real time’ XML feeds and widgets for blogs and desktops.”

About MAPLight.org

MAPLight.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Berkeley, California, illuminates the connection between money and politics. MAPLight.org shines a light on campaign contributions and related legislative outcomes, which leads to a more informed public and election reform.

Contact: Dan Newman, Executive Director, 510-868-0894 (office), 510-868-3304 (cell), info@takebackca.org

Pretty cool, huh?
Full disclosure: I’m on the advisory board for MAPlight.