In 2012 politics, following the money

I’m sitting in a worksh0p in New Orleans, learning about the latest resources and strategies for covering the influence of money on politics — part of our effort to get ready for next year’s elections.

One of the really cool on-line tools out there is followthemoney.org, a site that offers really accessible data about politicians, donors, lobbyists and how they all work together to shape the legislation and policies that we all live with.

Sounds dry, but buried in the data are interesting nuggets that tell us a lot about our government.

One example is the fact that five of state Senator Betty Little’s top 20 donors — including the two biggest — are labor unions.

Public employee unions representing corrections officers and healthcare workers are the Republican lawmakers two biggest donors.  Interesting, right?

This isn’t “gotcha” stuff.  But the money trail definitely matters and it often complicates the Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal picture that shapes a lot of elections.

More to come as we get deeper into the 2012 campaign…

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6 Responses to “In 2012 politics, following the money”

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  1. Paul says:

    I know the president raised 7 million in Hollywood last night. Not a bad haul!

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    It would be kind of nice if no one was allowed to spend more money to get elected than the job pays.
    Think about it. Imagine what it would be like in the private sector if jobs went to the highest bidder for the job.

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  3. Jim Bullard says:

    I think that politicians should not be allowed to raise money outside the district they represent. Nor should any outside group be allowed to produce ads/infomercials/propaganda pieces in support of or against candidates such as the Swiftboat groups. That would leave only the president raising money nationally (and maybe that should be required to be via public funding) and representation that actually represented the people who elected them.

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  4. Paul says:

    Or it would make it so that only rich people (like we are starting to see now) could run for office.

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  5. Paul says:

    Jim, This would also require us to amend the constitution. The “swift boat” thing was interesting. They ran those ads in a few small places and let the media do all the heavy lifting as far as disseminating it nationally. This a very common strategy now for political advertising. It is still all about TV. Even all the money that the president raised online via the grass roots went to pay for TV ads in swing areas.

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  6. PNElba says:

    As a conservative observer would point out: “I see you npr followers are opposed to the first amendment.”

    Dylan Ratigan (who is a Saranac Lake native) has started a “get the money out” campaign. He has proposed the following Constitutional amendment: “No person, corporation or business entity of any type, domestic or foreign, shall be allowed to contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office or to contribute money on behalf of or opposed to any type of campaign for Federal office. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, campaign contributions to candidates for Federal office shall not constitute speech of any kind as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution or any amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office.”

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