At the Personal Democracy Forum conference in New York City yesterday, the Sunlight Foundation, a D.C. nonprofit fighting for government transparency, unveiled a new Gmail plug-in they call Inbox Influence. The nifty little program scans public records to show you the political contributions made or received by the people and organizations who send you emails every day. Is your new boss a Paul Ryan-ite? Is that little “neighborhood” group funded by the Koch brothers? Did your Match.com date write a bunch of checks to Anthony Weiner? Now you can find out!
“I turned to my tech team and said, you mean we can actually do this?”
says Sunlight executive director Ellen Miller about Inbox Influence.
They can, and they did.
This is the latest in a series of innovative apps the Sunlight Foundation has built to try to reveal the dark pathways of political money. Checking Influence shows the lobbying and political contributions made by the corporations you give your cash to, as they appear on your bank statement.
Poligraft marks up any news article, blog post, or press release with the political affiliations of the people and corporations involved. The idea is to make the information available, in context, so people can make more informed decisions about what to believe and who to support.