You’ve heard that money is the mother’s milk of politics. Maybe you haven’t heard just how big a flood of nourishment pours over Washington every day. Thanks to a plug in The New York Times, a Web site that illustrates the point is about to get a lot more attention.
Maplight.org…a new Web site with a very simple mission: to correlate lawmakers’ voting records with the money they’ve accepted from special-interest groups. All of this is public information.
All of it has been available for decades. Other sites, including OpenSecrets.org, expose who’s giving how much to whom. But nobody has ever revealed the relationship between money given and votes cast to quite such a startling effect.
If you click the “Video Tour” button on the home page, you’ll see a six-minute video that illustrates the point. You find out that on H.R.5684, the U. S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, special interests in favor of this bill (including pharmaceutical companies and aircraft makers) gave each senator an average of $244,000. Lobbyists opposed to the bill (such as anti-poverty groups and consumer groups) coughed up only $38,000 per senator. Surrprise! The bill passed.
New York Times Tech Columnist David Pogue
Look up CNY congressman Jim Walsh on Maplight.com, and you’ll see that attorneys and law firms are his top contributors, followed closely by lobbyists and public relations people, then construction unions.
Nothing illegal about any of that; the site is just a much-needed reminder that our system of lawmaking often favors those who have the biggest bankroll, and not necessarily those who have the biggest legitimate problems and needs.