Using these tools, it's easy to keep track of politicians.

3 Open Data Tools You Can Use To Keep Track Of Politicians

Photo courtesy of Martin Falbisoner via Wikipedia.

Using open data, you can keep track of politicians, both their funding and actions.

In between flowery speeches, lax lobbying disclosure laws, and selective media coverage (pdf), it’s not easy knowing what your elected officials are up to.

These three tools, however, use open data courtesy of the non-profit transparency advocate Sunlight Foundation to reveal the murkier side of politics:

1. The Influence Explorer

The Sunlight Foundation Influence Explorer allows you to keep track of politicians.

Who sponsored a certain politician’s election campaign, and why? Were they Democrat or Republican?

This website allows you to enter any politician’s name and see who sponsored them for any given year.

For instance, entering Barack Obama reveals that his top contributors were individuals associated with the University of California, Microsoft, Google, Harvard University, and Goldman Sachs.

It also reveals companies involved in lobbying, the recipients of grants or contracts, and requests for earmarks.

Finally, you can search by company or individual names to see what they have contributed to politicans.

2. Shut That Down

This website serves to keep track of politicians and media figures who make racist, misogynist, and anti-LGTBQ comments in public.

Its “random quote” feature surfaces single quotes from its database of offensive remarks, but it also allows users to sort by person or category of terrible sayings.

It also includes the financial backers of these politicians and who they’re connected with.

3. Foreign Influence Explorer

The foreign influence trackers allows you to keep track of politicians influenced by outside interests/

Thanks to the anti-Nazi Foreign Agents Registration Act, all foreigners who want to influence U.S. policy must register with the government.

Using this data, which is available in pdf format from the Justice Department, the Sunlight Foundation has put together a map tool that allows you to explore the different foreign companies, individuals, and organizations that want to influence U.S. policy.

Additionally, it also shows a feed of proposed contracts for U.S. weapon sales.

For the full list of Sunlight Foundation tools, check out their website.

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Ole Skaar