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Campaign Cash Tracked to Idaho Candidates' Doorsteps

November 2, 2010

BOISE, Idaho - Election Day is today and, besides studying up on how candidates stand on the issues, there's another study point that Idahoans may want to consider: the sources of cash flowing into congressional campaigns.

MapLight.org has created an online "widget" that tracks that money. The group's executive director, Daniel Newman, says this information is important.

"Members of Congress are running for election, or reelection, and they'll tell you that they represent the voters, but actually they're getting their campaign cash from companies and interest groups that have a stake in what government does. And what this widget does is show a silhouette of each lawmaker, along with logos of their top contributors."

He says money influences almost everything that happens in Washington, and in state government. He feels the voters have a right to know who is backing whom.

"The politicians are never going to stand up there and say, 'Money influenced how I vote.' The donors are not going to say that either. We have a voting democracy, sure, but we also have a dollar democracy that's overlaid on top of this, and that's what that widget illustrates."

Newman says his group also tracks spending on initiative campaigns, although the sources of that cash can be harder to trace.

The website is maplight.org

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID