Now here’s a fun little by-product of campaign finance reform: Fundrace 2004. It allows you to search on names and addresses for people who have made campaign contributions to any of this year’s presidential candidates. I checked, and goodness gracious, there I am. Twice, actually, since I gave money to two different candidates. (Gosh, I hope Kerry doesn’t think I was two-timing him.)
The privacy implications of this thing are pretty well obvious. But on the other hand, it’s a hell of a lot of fun looking up various celebrities to see whether they’ve donated. The infamous liberal money machine Barbara Streisand, for instance, has only made two middling donations, a thousand bucks each to Kerry and Edwards. Alex Rodriguez maxed out at $2K for President Bush. Madonna (last name: Ciccone) hasn’t donated so much as a nickel, despite her famous endorsement of Wesley Clark. And who would have guessed that both of the guitar players for Pearl Jam wrote good-sized checks to Howard Dean, but Eddie Vedder’s too cheap to put his money where his mouth is?
Plus, don’t forget to look up your friends and co-workers. I, for instance, just looked up all the lawyers in my firm. Turns out I’m leading the pack among the associates, but have a ways to go to catch up to a couple of the partners.
So anyway, I’m kind of torn here. It’s entertaining, and I certainly understand why the Federal Elections Commission needs the info for enforcement of campaign finance laws, but this is still a heck of a privacy violation as far the public matching of names, addresses, occupations, employers, and campaign donations. What do you think?
H. Ross Perot donated $2K to Bush, as did his daddy. Thanks for the link. I’m and heartened by how many old-timey Republicans I know in Dallas that have not contributed. Rick Perry doesn’t seem to have ponied up either.
Yeah, kinda scary to know some thief can type in their address and find people just a short distance away from them who have the money to donate $1000-2000. I typed in my address and found someone only a half a mile away who donated $1000. What if a thief thought to do the same thing?
Ah, the law of unintended consequences again. Campaign finance reform has given you things like this, which are supposedly to make financing more ‘open’.
In fact, it has had the opposite effect. Sure, all these high-powered people are donating the max. But do you think that’s all they are doing? Not a chance. All campaign finance reform has done is drive the real fundraising underground. The rise of organizations like MoveOn.org or George Soros’s 527 corporations is the direct result of this ‘reform’, and the end result is that it’s going to be even harder to track political influence.
After McCain-Feingold passed, I predicted that this year’s election would see widespread increases in the control and use of the media by both parties. If you can’t afford to advertise on television, the next best thing (or a better thing) is to control the networks and print. So you’re going to see more of these ‘hit piece’ books by both the left and right, more liberal and conservative talk radio, more moves into big media by Democratic and Republican operatives, etc. ‘Charitable’ organizations like MoveOn are going to see huge increases in their funding. Howard Dean is setting up some political organization ‘outside’ of government and plans to raise millions. He’s not ‘affiliated’ with the Kerry campaign, so he can raise and spend money with impugnity.
This crap is going to get worse and worse, until we don’t know anymore who to believe and what to trust. It was much better when money just flowed right to the politicians. At least that way you know who was being bought.
I presume it’s accurate through 12/31/03–that’s what the site says.
I think the fact that it’s last years data is pretty important. A lot of money has been raised in the last few months, and of course we only recently learned for sure which single candidate Dems should put their money behind.
It’s an interesting (and troubling, sort of) site, but it’s not up-to-the-minute data.
Lou Costello (the greatest straightman ever).
More seriously, though, I’ve given this some additional thought, and I realize that this is just the age in which we live. Anybody who knows my real life name (Hi, Cecil!) can already Google oodles of information about me, everything from published opinions to the identies of certain clients to the floorplan and purchase price of my home (just ask Mtgman ). I don’t generally have a problem with providing personal info to government agencies, but I do wonder why those agencies (and the legislatures behind them) feel it’s so necessary to make that info public and freely available.
I don’t believe this had any thing to do with new laws.
I have used http://www.fecinfo.com to look at this information for years. They have data back to 1980 for all races. Can’t vouch for completeness; seems like reporting requirements tightened at some point.