I knew that one could check who has contributed to political campaigns by name on the Open Secrets website. But now you can enter an address at the Fund Race 2004 website and find out who contributed to whom in that neighborhood. There are other ways to collate the information as well, some of which are available at these two websites.
It is an amazing tool, but at the same time there can be privacy concerns. The Decembrist has an interesting post on this topic.
Even if its value is limited, disclosure is probably better than no disclosure. We want to be able to answer the question, “Where does Congressman Jones’s money come from.” We don’t really need to know the answer to the question, “Who did Mrs. Smith give money to?,” certainly not within the realm of limited, hard money contributions. But you can’t have the answer to the first question without making the answer to the second available. With current technology, there’s nothing that prevents any bit of information from being cross-tabulated all kinds of ways, and this is just the beginning.
I think disclosure of campaign contributions is definitely important and overrides some of the privacy concerns of individuals.
While on the topic of contributions, I want to ask all of you to contribute something to the Kerry campaign. US citizens and permanent residents can donate money to political campaigns according to the FEC.
The Poor Man is running a contest for contributions to Kerry between Wes Clark supporters, Dean supporters, “Dennis Hecubus” supporters and those who think the others are losers. I recommend the last category.