“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. ” Franklin D. Roosevelt
State elected officials and candidates (for example, state legislators):
How to find out their major campaign contributors
Let’s go to the FollowTheMoney.org website:
- Step 1: Click here: https://www.followthemoney.org/
- Note: FollowTheMoney.org wants to hear from you! If you have questions about its data or web site, please call 406-449-2480 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. FollowTheMoney.org says: “We promise same-day service!”
- Step 2: Find the green “Ask Anything” block — then click the “Start Here” button
- Step 3: You will see the “Ask Anything” pop-up — click the “Contributions TO” button
- Step 4: You will see the “Show contributions TO” pop-up — click the “candidates(s)” button on the far left
- Step 5: You will see the “Which candidate(s)?” pop-up — click the “specific candidate” button on the far left
- Step 6: You will see the “Find candidate by name” pop-up — type in candidate’s name as follows (in this format: “Marshall, Bob”):
- last name
- then type in a comma and a space
- then first name
- Step 7: A white pop-pop box will appear … at the bottom you will see the phrase “See All Results… ” click on “See All Results…”
- Step 8: You will see a list of one or more names. Hover your mouse over each name until you find the candidate with the right name, the right state, and and the right year(s) [usually the most recent year(s)] [for example: “Marshall, Robert G (Bob)”] — then click on that name
- Step 9: You will see the “Ask Anything” pop-up box. Click the “Go” button at the bottom on the right.
- Step 10: On the line that starts with a yellow box labeled “General Info” check the button labeled “Election Year” (It’s the second box in the “General Info” row)
- Step 11: On the line that starts with a yellow box labeled “Contributor’s Info” check the button labeled “Record” (It’s the first box in the “Contributor’s Info” row)
- Step 12: You will now see a list of contributors … with the year of contribution, the names associated with the contribution (“Original Name” and Contributor” columns), the nature of the contributor’s business (the “Specific Business, “General Industry,” and Broad Sector” columns), the contribution amount and date, and the location of the contributor ( the “City,” “State,” and “In-State” columns)
- Step 13: You now have important information on the candidate’s campaign contributors. Here are some things to pay particular attention to:
- “Out-of-State” contributions: The last column on the right indicates whether the contribution was from an “In-State” source — or from some other state. Pay particular attention to contributions that have a “no” answer (indicating that the contributor is from some other state — called “out-of-state”). “Google” the name of the contributor to try to answer this question: “Why would someone from another state give a campaign contribution to one of my state’s legislators? — in other words: “Why do they want to influence our election when they don’t even live here?”
- Other special interests: Look at the entries, including the names (“Original Name” and Contributor” columns), the nature of the contributor’s business (the “Specific Business,” “General Industry,” and Broad Sector” columns) and the contribution amount. “Google” the name of the contributor to try to answer this question: “Why do they want to influence our election?” For example, is a special interest making the campaign contribution so that the special interest can have the elected official “in their pocket” and call the shots?
- Step 14: You now have information on the elected official’s or candidate’s major campaign contributors — information you can use to ask the candidate the right question — click here for a sample question you can adapt to your situation.
- Step 15: Some folks call asking such questions “bird-dogging” … we think of it as being an engaged citizen doing their part to preserve and protect our precious democracy. As in most things in life, preparation is key — So click here for important tips to help you prepare.