Monday, January 03, 2005

Is Money Speech? We Know it Talks.

Today I got a copy of The Hightower Lowdown, a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law and her partner who live up in northern Washington, a tad closer to land (or more properly, farther from urban wretchedness) than I care to.

The current January issue presents Federal Election Commission data compiled by the the Center for Responsive Politics, showing how various industries concentrated their dollars in the 2004 campaign. In focusing on contributions to the GOP, the article is deliberately one-sided. But then so were the donations in industries such as Timber, Restaurants and, yes, the Media.

Next, look at the Top 100 donors and you'll see the list top-heavy with representation from labor and trade associations that favor the Democrats. This is really a good resource for digging into some of the facts after accusations start flying back and forth about the influence of money on national elections.

There's much more fun to be had on the site. For instance, drill down to position number 95. Poor Enron! After years of big donations solidly in the red column (71% of $2.5 million in 2000), it's gone even-Steven—albeit with a paltry $36.9 thousand. For each company, you can also drill down to see what its top individual donors gave.

If all this snooping doesn't feed your paranoia or satisfy your morbid curiosity, you can look up your friends' and neighbors' political contributions on Fundrace.org. It also draws upon the FEC database and allows you to search by name or address.

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