Explore companies, lawmakers and prominent individuals that matter to you and see how they're influencing the political system

What's New

Fixed Fortunes

We now have a new section called “Fixed Fortunes,” which is Sunlight's analysis and dataset of the money the biggest corporate political donors put into campaigns and lobbying and what they get in return.

Fixed Fortunes shows that between 2007 and 2012, 200 of the most politically active for-profit companies in the United States disclosed spending a total of $5.8 billion influencing Washington through campaign contributions and lobbying, and have benefitted from $4.4 trillion in contracts, grants, loans and subsidies. The number exceeds the $4.3 trillion that 50 million Americans received over the same time period from Social Security. Dig into the data and read our analysis.

Foreign Influence Explorer

After months of research, technical development and manual data entry, we are proud to unveil Foreign Influence Explorer—a new database housed within Influence Explorer that lets users explore how foreign entities influence policy and public opinion in the U.S.

Real-Time Influence Explorer

In addition to the new foreign lobbying data, Influence Explorer still features federal campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission in real-time. As we get closer to the 2014 mid-term elections, find who's spending the most to win a seat in Congress.

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    regularly updated news and analysis using Influence Explorer

    Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions

    Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.

    That figure, more than the $4.3 trillion the federal government paid the nation’s 50 million Social Security recipients over the same period, is the result of an unprecedented effort to quantify the less-examined side of the campaign finance equation: Do political donors get something in return for what they give?

    Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested the answer to that question was no. Corporate spending to influence federal elections would not “give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” the majority wrote in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

    Sunlight decided to test that premise by examining influence and its potential results on federal decision makers over six years, three before the 2010 Citizens United decision and three after.

    We focused on the records of 200 for-profit corporations, all of which had active political action committees and lobbyists ...

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