April 19, 2012, 6:00 AM — One of the great things about the Internet is that it allows people with minimal resources to shine light in places that entities with greater power and influence would rather remain dark. It’s kind of the flip side of privacy, and it’s a good thing.
Today’s example of Web-inspired sunshine is SopaTrack, a site created by ex-Googler Randy Meech. This site follows the old private investigator’s creed: If want to find out the truth about anything, follow the money.
Using data collected by Maplight.org, SopaTrack shows you how campaign contributions may have influenced the votes of all 532 members of the United States Congress. Though inspired by the Stop Online Piracy Act, it applies to all bills proposed in the current session of Congress.
Essentially, SopaTrack tells you whether your elected officials voted with the money – in favor of bills that have garnered more political contributions from supporters than opponents – or against the money.
On average, our Congress votes with the money 73 percent of the time. Shocking, ain’t it?
Four US Congressfolk have perfect 100 percent records, which means they favor the bills that put more greenbacks in their campaign coffers every single time. They are Representative Mark Amodei (R-Nevada), Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Ladies and gentlemen, please stand up and take a bow – just be careful that none of that money falls out of your pockets.
On the flipside, only four reps vote with the money 50 percent of the time or less. They are Rep. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-New York), Rep. Larry Kissell (D-North Carolina), and in the very last spot at number 532, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Even then, though, Manchin still follows the Benjamins 46 percent of the time.
Of course, most of the time there’s money flowing on both sides – sometimes quite a lot of it -- and many of our esteemed elected officials get contributions from both. So it’s kind of a win-win for them. For us little folk, not so much.
How much money are we talking about? Let’s take the SOPA bill, otherwise known as HR 3261. That has yet to come up for a vote, thanks in no small part to the SOPA Internet “blackout” campaign last January.
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