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Can't Buy Me Love

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Jewelry eCard

At the beginning of the holiday season last year, Sunlight Labs developed a new tool that forever changed how I shop -- and is definitely changing my plans for Valentine’s Day.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve probably seen (and hopefully used) Influence Explorer, a tool that lets you look up lobbying and political influence data on powerful individuals, politicians, organizations and industries. Checking Influence is an online banking application built off of this information. If you bank online, or use a service like Mint.com, Checking Influence will show you where your consumer dollars wind up in Washington.

While I’ve never really liked “Hallmark Holidays” -- Valentine’s Day being one of them (except for the chocolate, of course) -- I decided to use Influence Explorer to check out what a “Hallmark Holiday” means in Washington. Turns out Hallmark Cards has given more than $3 million in campaign contributions since 1989. That’s probably worth a thank you card. The card company also spent more than $3 million in the last three years on lobbying alone. I guess there’s more than one way to show you care.

Hallmark isn’t the only one. The romantic dinner, complete with chocolate and flowers, that you may have planned on February 14 are all parts of industries that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions. See where your money ends up using Checking Influence or Influence Explorer.

In the meantime, spread the love by sending a different kind of card this Valentine’s Day -- and let your special someone know: Every Kiss Begins With K Street.