Who’s Buying Your Senator or Representative?
Opensecrets.org is an essential website if you want to keep up with the “inside story” in Congress. It bills itself as “your nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.” It’s chock full of data, and you can spend a lot of time there, as many investigative journalist and interested voters do. But it’s dense, and sometimes you have to be pretty adept at research to get to the bottom of your questions.
Well, now comes an app that is immensely help in simplifying your research. And it provides a quick and easy way to get an answer to one question I often ask myself as I read and listen to the news: who’s laying down most of the contributions for our Senators and members of congress? Who’s footing the bill to keep these people in office? Welcome to Greenhouse. (You can install Greenhouse for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari by going to allaregreen.us). As described by David Kravets in an article on ArsTechnica, “Greenhouse pulls in campaign contribution data for every Senator and Representative, including the total amount of money received and a breakdown by industry and size of donation. It then combines this with a parser that finds the names of Senators and Representatives in the current page and highlights them. Hover your mouse over the highlighted names and it displays their top campaign contributors.”
It’s a brilliant idea, and one every voter can use–and should use— to understand just exactly where the men and women you elected to speak on your behalf are getting the money to keep their careers going. Are they going to listen to us–representing one vote each–or are they going to listen to the people giving them hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars for their influence in all those private committee meetings we don’t get to attend?
Just something to think about….
And while you’re at it, think about this, too: the person who invented this ingenuous, incredibly useful app, is a 16-year old high school student. Honest.
So let’s give a hand to the future of American youth…and to the parents who teach them that some things are more important than…well, you fill in the blank. If you’re the parent of a teenager you won’t have any problem doing that.
Read the ArsTechnica article about the Greenhouse app, and Nicholas Rubin, the 16 years old high school student who has just made it possible for each of us to shine a brighter light on the sausage making in the Congressional halls of Washington.
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