Follow the (oil) money

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One of the great perks of working for the Sunlight Foundation is finding out about great new tools for increasing transparency in the political process. These tools range from OpenSecrets, which allows you to find out how money is impacting the electoral process, to Open Congress, where you can find info on the latest bills.

Sometimes, however, somebody develops a tool that lets you bring it all together. One example is Follow the Oil Money. Here, you can track not only how much money the oil and gas industry is giving individual members, but you can also check a member’s record on votes on energy legislation. Or, as my boss wrote:

Follow the Oil Money isn’t just a cool new tool. It presents some striking evidence to the potential connection between dollars and votes.

So let’s take it for a test drive, with, say, Rep. Steve Pearce? Here are the contributions he’s received from oil and gas interests since 2000:

Follow the Oil Money: Steve Pearce Relationship View

Turns out, according to Follow the Oil Money (which relies on data from Federal Election Commission records), Rep. Pearce received $421,840 in oil and gas money campaign contributions between 2000 and 2008.

“Well,” you ask, “don’t we already know that Pearce is a huge recipient of oil and gas money?” Of course! But Follow the Oil Money, as I said, ties it all together:

Pearce Oil and Gas voting record

If you click through, you can see Rep. Pearce ranked No. 5 on the list of House members (based on the percentage of oil and gas contributions they receive). He also holds the distinction of being the only member on the list in the top 50 to vote in lock-step with oil and gas interests 100 percent of the time.

You can find information on the rest of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation at the site, and more information on individual donations and the votes used to develop the record as well.

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