By Rebecca Wharton
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, tracking the money that flows into elections has become — to put it mildly — complicated. As you watch the plethora of political attack ads on television, you may wonder who’s putting up all the money that’s driving our system today. It’s not that easy to figure it all out on your own. The organizations listed below have been following the money for a long time, giving us the information we need to track the influence of money on politics and to help prevent our government from being completely bought and sold by vested interests. What they’ve found might surprise you.
The Sunlight Foundation is tracking candidates’ fundraisers, profiling super PACS, and following the money going into political advertising. Check out their Buried Treasure page to find out ‘what we don’t know about money in America’ or visit the Party Blog to find out where the party is and how much you have to donate to get a seat at the table. Sunlight’s super PAC Act, a draft bill that would stop undisclosed payments in elections from ruining public accountability in campaigns, is a work in progress — you can help write the legislation.
OpenSecrets.org, a project of the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics, offers original reporting the effects of money on elections and public policy, including a piece by the center’s executive director about the lack of transparency in the 2012 campaign. The Center for Responsive Politics also has a new iPhone app called “dollarocracy,” to keep you ahead of the curve in any political conversation.
Mother Jones has a special section on what they call “Dark Money.” Check out The 20 Biggest Donors of the 2012 Election (So Far), a virtual “who’s who” of political fundraising, showcasing influential people pulling strings from behind the scenes.
The Campaign Legal Center tracks and participates in lawsuits aimed at keeping political campaigns free from the influence of money. The Legal Center also aims to impact policy decisions made by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and leads the Congressional Ethics Coalition, an ideologically diverse group of the nation’s leading government reform organizations working for meaningful reform of congressional ethics rules. The Legal Center also supports efforts to ensure that the public airwaves serve as a forum for open and vibrant political debate. The Center has a blog and a regular news update on this topic.
Democracy 21, an organization working to eliminate the undue influence of big money in American politics, has a “What’s New” section on their website with the latest updates on their efforts, including a request to the Justice Department asking them to closely monitor super PACS during the 2012 Election.
In an era where there is more publicity than real information, these organizations are keeping an eye on what many would like to keep secret.
Who Will Tell The People by William Greider
The Price of Civilization by Jeffry Sachs