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Tag Archive: Money in Politics

Introducing TransparencyData.com

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Transparency Data

Today we're releasing TransparencyData.com, a new service from the Sunlight Foundation, and technically the most challenging thing we've ever done. TransparencyData lets you query and download bulk data about transparency. We're launching with two datasets that have never been merged before, and without an unprecedented amount of access.

We've merged all of OpenSecrets data with all the data from FollowTheMoney.org allowing you, for the first time, to get a clear picture of campaign contributions at both the state and federal level. Before now, there were two datasets: the OpenSecrets data focusing on federal data, and the FollowTheMoney data, focusing on state data. Now, finally, you can use TransparencyData.com to query, filter, and download this data.

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Republicans Demand Campaign Cash for Votes

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It looks like congressional Republicans have seen MAPLight.org - the insanely useful money-for-votes tracker - and they like the idea. (Also see: National Association of Home Builders.) That idea being that money equals votes and votes equal money and therefore interests that they vote in favor of should kick back some campaign cash to reward their votes:

With the House Democrats’ refusal to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies — stalling the rewrite of the warrantless wiretapping program — GOP leadership aides are grumbling that their party isn’t getting more political money from the telecommunications industry.

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Lobbyists Upset at Homebuilder’s PAC

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Last week, the National Association of Home Builders announced that it was suspending PAC contributions to members of Congress because of the failure to obtain a tax-break provision they desperately wanted. (I'm sure that they aren't too happy about the bashing they're taking over the mortgage meltdown.) This action isn't being treated with open arms by other lobbyists and industry shops. Why, you ask? Well, because the NAHB is explicitly stating that their PAC contributions are tied to votes by members of Congress. Straight from the horse's mouth: contributions buy votes. Listen to these lobbyists try to distance themselves from NAHB (via The Hill):

“It’s not going to make a damn bit of difference,” said one senior business lobbyist, who said that the $10,000 limits on contributions to candidates’ campaigns were too low for such a threat to have any bite.

A spokesman for the National Association of Realtors, Mary Trupo, said her group had no opinion about the NAHB’s move except that “it’s not a tactic that we would take.” She added, “We continue to support members who have been supportive of the housing sector.”

“I’m embarrassed by what the homebuilders did,” said one lobbyist, who characterized the NAHB’s move as “inappropriate behavior.”

Of course, acknowledging fact in Washington is often "inappropriate behavior".

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Big Money Still Counts

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My long time colleague and friend Nancy Watzman at Public Campaign writes over at the Huffington Post that despite all the talk about netroots and a democratization of fund raising via the Internet that when it comes to campaign finance for the presidential candidates big donors still significantly dominate. In the last presidential election, it was the early money -- raised from people giving a $1,000 or more that established the front runners.

Nancy quotes a Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) study that found in the first six months of 2007, the candidates received nearly three-quarters of their funds in amounts of $1,000 or more. For Giuliani, Romney and Clinton, the figure exceeds 80 percent. When it comes to small contributions ($200 or less), Obama is raised $16.4 million, more than the rest of the Democratic field combined, as well as the entire Republican field combined. As impressive as that is, he still raised three-fifths of his funds in amounts of $1,000 or more. Overall, in the second quarter of fund raising, there was an increase of 84 percent in small contributions over first quarter totals, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).But still the small money is dwarfed by the big donors.

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CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) Today 59063

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