Group Provides Fast Access to Money-Politics Connection

June 6, 2007
Another resource for tracking the influence of money on US politics was announced May 16, 2007. The Web site MAPLight.org provides an easy way to track money contributed to members of the US Congress (only the 109th and current 110th session so far). It may be an interesting tool for assessing whether things are any different in a Democrat-controlled Congress, tracking how members of Congress running for president are voting on various issues, or investigating individual cases of corruption or influence-peddling.

You can search the database via a number of routes, such as interest group, legislator, bill, or topic, and there are numerous subcategories for each main category. For instance, under topics, there are many that may be on target for your beat, including agriculture, energy, environment, and transportation. Each of these categories has many subcategories (e.g., environment has breakouts such as air, coastal, forestry, recycling, and wildlife).

Whatever route you take, you'll quickly end up with considerable detail about the correlation of money with that particular issue or legislator. You'll also be able to get information on the timing of a contribution, whether the money source was for or against a bill, and how a legislator voted.

The base data, which is expected to be updated frequently, comes from the Library of Congress and the Center for Responsive Politics. MAPLight, a nonprofit organization based in Berkeley, Calif., that says it shines a Light on Money And Politics (hence the organization name), first provided a similar service for the California legislature in 2006, according to a May 16, 2007, press release; Dan Newman, 510-868-0894.

For many more resources on money and politics, and alternative means of verifying what you may discover on the MAPLight data base, see theTipSheet of March 2, 2005.