Follow the Money at MapLight.org

John Boehner - Contributions via Wired Influence TrackerWe’ve come a long way from a parking garage in Virginia. While some of our readers may already know of MapLight.org, I wanted to make special note of this terrific site that tracks the connection between money and politics, especially in light of recent reports that corporate contributions have surged to the new Republican leaders of the 112th Congress.

MapLight helps citizens hold their legislators accountable by creating an easy interface to drill down and research the relationship between campaign contributions made by lobbyists and corporations to specific lawmakers on the one hand, and the votes these legislators make for or against specific bills on the other. Users can follow the money trail in a variety of ways. If you have a specific bill you’re interested in, you can search for it, or also quickly access “Bills in the News.” For instance, check out the page for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act where you can track the total contributions made on either side of the bill, look at “$ Near Votes” which provides total contributions given to House members within 30 days of the vote, or review charts and graphs generated by this data for some interesting visuals.

If you want to track individual members of Congress you can do that as well going all the way back to the 109th Congress. Speaker Boehner’s page, for example, provides data on his top contributors and also his “$ Near Votes.” Maps also show users where his contributions are coming from within the United States. If you’d like to track contributions made by different interest groups the site provides an extensive list of different lobbying organizations from banks and telecommunication companies to different single issue groups interested in various social and political issues. MapLight also writes about and provides RSS feeds on current research findings about money and politics in Congress in their blog “Spotlight on Congress.”