Sunlight Foundation Wants You to Check Your Influence

Ethical Markets - R Trendspotting

NEW TOOL LETS YOU SEE HOW YOUR EVERYDAY (AND HOLIDAY) SPENDING IMPACTS POLITICS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 30, 2010

Contact: Gabriela Schneider 202-742-1520

WASHINGTON, DC – The Sunlight Foundation today launched Checking Influence, a web tool that analyzes your online bank or credit card statement to reveal how your everyday spending wields political influence. Checking Influence calculates how much the companies you do business with spend on lobbying activities and campaign contributions, making it easy to see how your spending habits align politically. Checking Influence is the latest addition to Sunlight’s library of websites that use publicly available data to help Americans explore the connection between money and politics.

“As we start to examine how much we spent on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Checking Influence will let all of us see how effortlessly politics escapes Washington and settles its way into our wallets; often without us even knowing it,” said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “We created this tool to help Americans be more informed consumers and citizens. Just as some consumers check to see if their coffee is free trade or if their clothing is manufactured in sweatshops, they can now know if their purchases help fund lobbying campaigns. We’re trying to answer the question: When you buy coffee at Starbucks; refill a prescription at Walgreens; or download a song from iTunes, do you know where your money really goes?”

Checking Influences uses an industry-standard SSL encryption—the same technology online banking sites have to ensure the privacy of users’ data—to keep all personal information secure.

The backbone of Checking Influence is TransparencyData.com, Sunlight’s open-source, central repository for federal lobbyist registrations, federal grant and federal and state campaign contributions. Sunlight Labs, the Foundation’s in-house team that builds technology and Internet tools to make government more transparent and accountable, developed Checking Influence. The site is built upon the public Transparency Data API, whose data is provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and theNational Institute for Money in State Politics.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan non-profit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including TransparencyData.com and Party Time.