Dollars, Displayed

Instant funding info


Ever read a political news item and wonder who's funding the politicians in the story? Now you can find out which donors back which political figures, and how much, with the help of a browser plug-in. It's called "Greenhouse"-a nod to transparency and maybe a jab at politicians' hot air.

For example, if you were using the plug-in while reading a recent news item about Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her views on Obamacare, simply hovering a mouse over her name would bring up an information window that looks something like a political baseball card. Greenhouse lists the top 10 industries from which a politician receives money; Pelosi's number one source of funding comes from medical professionals. The health care industry gave her slightly over $200,000 in 2012.

The software, which launched in June, also highlights what percentage of a politician's funds come from presumably grassroots supporters-those who make donations of $200 or less. For Pelosi, that comes out to a mere 4.8 percent.

Greenhouse's creator, Nicholas Rubin, writes on his website that the app is an attempt to patch a broken political system: "even though I am only 16 years old, not quite old enough to vote, I am old enough to know that our political system desperately needs fixing." He believes that "whether Democrat or Republican, we should all want a political system that is independent of the influence of big money and not dependent on endless cycles of fundraising from special interests."