PRESS RELEASE: MAPLight.org Launches Groundbreaking Money & Politics Search Engine for U.S. Congress
Federal Money Trail Now Visible Online
BERKELEY, CA, May 16, 2007 - MAPLight.org has launched a revolutionary search engine that reveals the connections between money and politics within U.S. Congress.
At the web site www.maplight.org, journalists and the public can now rapidly follow the money and voting trail for over 100 subject areas, legislators, special interest groups, and bills for the 109th Congress and the current 110th Congress.
"Information that used to take days to uncover is now available at the click of a mouse," said Dan Newman, Executive Director of MAPLight.org. "How often did Representatives vote with the special interests that financed their election campaigns? Now you can find out online in seconds."
MAPLight.org for Congress combines all campaign contributions to U.S. legislators with legislators' votes on every bill, using official records from the Library of Congress web site and the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org). The resulting database of bills, voting records, and campaign contributions powers the search engine at MAPLight.org and enables people to see the links between dollars spent and votes cast in Washington D.C.
Users and reporters can now find quick answers to previously difficult questions like these:
- How closely does a vote in Congress correlate with special-interest contributions?
- Which organizations and industries support and oppose key federal bills?
- How much money was spent by special interests on each side of a bill, and did legislators receive funds in the final days preceding a vote?
For example, last week, on May 7, the Senate passed an amendment to prevent consumers from buying prescription drugs from abroad. Visitors to MAPLight.org can easily find that the pharmaceutical industry, who supported this amendment, gave an average of $70,181 to each Senator voting Yes on this amendment - more than 2.5 times as much as the $25,914 average the industry gave to each Senator voting No. The industry-backed measure passed by a vote of 49 Yes, 40 No. (Contribution amounts are from 2001-2006.)
The new tools at MAPLight.org provide an unparalleled level of government transparency, exposing patterns never before seen by ordinary citizens. In April MAPLight.org presented at the Web. 2.0 Expo in San Francisco and was featured on Wired.com as the web mashup that "turns citizens into Washington's newest watchdogs" via backend computational power and open database journalism.
MAPLight.org is turning heads because people can look up money and politics information in the way that is most relevant to them. For example, you can browse either by bill number or subject area. Or you can start by looking at the special interest groups and follow the money from there. In the near future, the site will have real-time XML feeds and widgets for blogs and desktops.
MAPLight.org launched in October 2006 showcasing data from the California legislature. Positive reviews followed as well as demand for the Web 2.0 political search engine to expand to the federal level. On May 16, 2007, the organization will publicly launch the MAPLight.org for Congress database containing key federal legislation from the 109th and the current 110th Congress. As new legislation is introduced, it is added to MAPLight.org daily and made available for immediate public viewing. In this latest site update, advanced users will gain features such as Customize and Add An Organization, giving them the ability to report and comment on their findings to the community at large.
MAPLight.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Berkeley, California. Its search engine at MAPLight.org illuminates the connection between money and politics (MAP) via an unprecedented database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.