This free browser extension exposes the influence of big money on US Congress

US Capitol Building
CC BY 2.0 Allie_Caulfield

Nick Rubin's Greenhouse extension aims to shine a light on the undue influence of money in Congress by making it easy to see where each politician's campaign contributions come from.

We all know that money has a huge influence on US politics, even if we'd like to think otherwise, and though we might like to believe that our Senators and Representatives are voting for what their constituents want, it's rather likely that they're voting for what their donors want instead.

One way to see the influence of money in the US Congress is to find out "the money story behind the news story", by learning what industries and interests are providing large amounts of campaign funding to which politician, and then comparing that with how they vote on certain issues. And now there's a quick and simple way to do so, right from your web browser, on any page that mentions a member of Congress by name, thanks to the work of 16-year-old Nick Rubin.

The free Greenhouse browser extension, which can be installed on Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, could be a big step toward transparency about money's influence on Congress, and could help informed voters to vet candidates before the election.

"Displays on any web page detailed campaign contribution data for every Senator and Representative, including total amount received and breakdown by industry and by size of donation. Puts vital data where it’s most relevant so you can discover the real impact of money on our political system." - Greenhouse

This handy web app isn't a partisan propaganda tool, as it covers all 535 elected representatives in Congress, regardless of party affiliation, and as the motto for Greenhouse says, "Some are red. Some are blue. All are green."

With the extension installed, finding out the money story behind each politician in a news story is as simple as using the cursor to hover over their name, which triggers a popup with easy-to-read data on their campaign contributions. Greenhouse displays the total amount contributions, a breakdown of donations by industry for the last full election cycle, and the percentage of small donations (less than $200) to the total amount. The data also includes their ranking in the top 50 members of Congress, if applicable, as well as one-click access to that politician's most current contribution data on OpenSecrets.

This tool could be a great way for Americans to easily see the correlation between the donors and the political stance of the members of Congress they support, because it can be displayed right within the news story. For example, when reading an article about a securities or financial regulation bill, finding out who's been funding the sponsor of that bill is as easy as hovering over their name. If the politician has received a large amount of donations from the industry that their bill is favoring, it's kind of hard to dismiss that as just being coincidental, and probably ought to be viewed as a strong sign of the heavy and inappropriate influence of money in our political system.

To install this free extension and begin seeing how big money is a "social and industrial disease" in US politics, go to AllAreGreen.us.

Tags: Apps

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