Category Archives: politics

API access to US state political funding data

MoneyInStatePoliticsLogoThe National Institute on Money in State Politics now provides a service where users can submit queries and download data in xml format. The documentation for the service (which requires setting up an account login) is here.

They also include services for generating various graphic reports including a Political Contribution Logorithmic Scatterplot Profile with interactive javascript inspection of candidates.


I did quick cut-and-paste from another site which uses thier data, and was able to generate network maps of the top tend funders for a few california candidates. But with access to the full DB via the API, it is possible to do much more sophisticated maps and even animations – for most states they have data going back several years.


Political Network Datamining

Its not what they say during the campaign that counts…

..its what they do in office. The nice thing about politicians is, a lot of what they do is a matter of public record, increasingly available on the internet for free. Wouldn’t it be great if ordinary people had the tools to make this political landscape visible?

I’m posting here some examples I’ve come across of intriguing maps and representations of political data. Mostly these fall under the broad heading of “mapping congress” based on data available from the THOMAS db of congressional record.

Committee Interlocks

I found a nice preprint in arXiv that explores the hierarchical relationships formed by the pattern of overlap of Representatives in committees:

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Extraction, Visualization & Analysis of Corporate Inter-Relationships

Interesting project EVA with goal of creating a semi-automated system for parsing and extracting corporate relationships from SEC 10-K filings, ‘tho they did use some existing ownership dbs as well. Software uses a nice technique of identifying paragraphs likely to contain owership information and presenting to user for verification. Seems that much of the work was done in 2001, I can’t tell if it is an ongoing project.
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Mapping Congress

It is still very rough, but I’ve been having a very interesting time looking at contributions among PACs in FEC Data. This image shows transactions to Senate candidate’s central committes that were reported in May of 2006. Colors by party, grey is unkown / unspecified. Labels are on candidate’s committes, but some are violently truncated. Names of PACs have been removed to protect the guilty (actually because they are too long and make the graph cluttered)

They layouts are not converging very well, so the structure is not that accurate. This is also only showing one month’s data, so not very representative. But need much more specific queries and good aggregation rules to deal with longer time periods. Easy to imagine making it interactive, zoomable, animating the time data, adding to SNA metrics, etc. A long ways to go to build software to do this, but I’m excited to have something to show!

In January 2003, before the start of the current war in Iraq, a group of people in San Francisco began experimenting with ideas of how to respond to the newly increased level of rhetoric and propaganda surrounding issues of US national security. The goal was to sensitize people to the threats to civil liberties implied by the (then) newly proposed government projects such as the renamed, repackaged and re-budgeted “Total Information Awareness” program, while at the same time doing outreach to provide political organizing materials to people on the street in a humorus and provocative way. Continue reading

Direct Action to Stop the War (DASW) Site

DASW logoDASW was an SF Bay-area umbrella group for coordinating non-violent direct action against U.S.-lead wars for global domination. Using classic “spokes-council” organizing model, thousands of people were able to coordinate their actions well enough to shut down the SF financial district during the first days of the invasion of Iraq. More than 2000 people were arrested or detained over several days of protest, only a handful were even charged of any crime. The website provided analysis, calls to action, and some information on legal support and non-violent direct action organizing. Although the guts of the website was written by others (DT) I assisted with content management.

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