To illuminate the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes so that U.S. citizens can draw their own conclusions about how campaign contributions affect public policy.
Launched in October 2006 as a project of TakeBackCA.org, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, MAPLight.org is a public database that sheds light on the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes. By making money-vote connections transparent, the site supports citizens and communities in holding their legislators accountable while saving them hours — even days — of research time. Used predominantly by nonprofits working on particular issues, journalists, grassroots activists, and bloggers, the site covers the California legislature and U.S. Congress, using data gleaned from publicly available sources such as the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics. Eventually, MAPLight.org plans to cover all fifty states and key cities.
Outstanding Web Features:
MAPLight.org combines three data sets — bill texts and legislative voting records; supporting and opposing interests for each bill; and campaign contribution data — and presents information in charts and color-coded bar graphs. Visitors may browse data for California or Congress by bill number or subject, special interest, or voting record to find out how a legislator voted on a particular bill and who that legislator's top contributors were; how often legislators voted to support bills their top contributors supported; how often special interests such as insurance or drug companies succeeded in blocking bills that did not serve their own interests; and more. A six-minute video demonstrates myriad ways to explore the database. In addition, visitors with a knowledge of groups that support or oppose a particular bill may submit that information to the site with an appropriate citation, which MAPLight.org researchers then validate before adding it to the database. Visitors may also customize a money-votes analysis on any bill by selecting which special interest groups supported or opposed the bill.