FollowTheMoney.org: The Power of Tracking Money in Legislative Committees
Legislators who sit on influential committees wield a lot of power over proposed laws that directly affect special interests. Political players know that legislative committees are the place to affect legislation, often with little public scrutiny.
FollowTheMoney.org's Legislative Committee Analysis Tool (L-CAT) fuses legislative committee rosters compiled by Project Vote Smart with the Institute's contribution records for those committee members, providing a quick view of which special interests have-or don't have-political donation relationships with committee members.
As mentioned previously, AB 2109 would require individuals and parents to obtain the signature of a health care practitioner for a philosophical exemption to vaccination. The assembly's Committee on Health will hear the bill on April 17.
That gives you some time to get some background info on each committee member's campaign contributors. Simply click the L-CAT icon on FollowTheMoney.org's home page, and select "California" from the drop-down menu. Then, select a chamber and legislative committee. In this case, we're interested in the assembly's Committee on Health.
Now comes the best part. Select an economic industry or special interest from the menu, and filter the totals so you only see their contributions to committee members. This makes it easy to see how much of a candidate's campaign funds came from one specific industry or interest group.
For our example, choose Health. This will display all contributions from the health care sector, a total of $1.4 million contributed to all members in 2010. Listed below the committee members, under Table 2, are the top 20 industry contributors to members on the committee: you'll see that committee members received a total of $231,794 from pharmaceutical and health product manufacturers. Click the industry to itemize by donor and learn that Genentech topped the list by contributing $31,021 to ten members. Clicking on "see records" and scrolling through Genentech recipients you'll see that the company gave $2,500 to bill sponsor Richard Pan.
Citizens and advocates alike should know who has or hasn't made donations to powerful committee members. The next time you track a bill, use the L-CAT to check out who donated how much to committee members. That knowledge can help you more fully understand what's at stake.