Americans have pretty much checked out when it comes to keeping an eye on their elected representatives. With the possible exception of really big votes, we never even pay attention to how these representatives are voting. I think that’s going to have to change if we have any hope of getting our government to work for us.
In addition to voting records, it’s also pretty illuminating to see where campaign funding is coming from for these elected officials. Here are a few web sites that’ll let you keep an eye on what your government is up to:
- Maplight.org: This is a pretty cool site. Not only will it let you drill into how members of Congress voted, it also documents where lobbying money is being applied.
- Opensecrets.org: Another great source of information. Check out the “heavy hitters” list – it’s a list of the top all-time campaign donors from 1989 through 2012.
- Followthemoney.org: This site has some great local connections. Type in your address and see financial information about candidates in your area.
- Govtrack.us: Lets you view statistics and track issues you’re interested in.
- Opencongress.org: This is mainly aimed at letting you communicate with your representatives, but their “money trail” feature can help you see campaign contributions for these politicians.