I had an opportunity to tour the Maplight.org congressional search a couple of weeks ago. At their launch party in Palo Alto, they showed their new search and discussed how their data analysis relates to clean elections and why it’s important to be able to combine this data to see the realities of what’s happening in terms of campaign contributions and legislative voting records.
One example from their statewide program shows a bill where bottled water manufacturers gave a legislator money the day before he voted against a bill that would mandate stronger bottled water standards. It could be a coincidence, of course, and there’s always a chicken-egg scenario in these cases but the combined data is fascinating regardless.
Maplight.org is a Berkeley-based nonprofit with a mission of “illuminating the connection” between money and politics. The congressional search and the California state search are both now up on their web site.