Anonymous Googlers Help Whip Congress Into Shape
An anonymous group of Googlers have helped create a tool citizens can use to whip Congress—and by “whip,” they mean call to voice support of the Fair Elections Now Act.
The Fair Elections Now Act, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones (R-NC), would require politicians to rely on a hybrid campaign funding model designed to eliminate special interest campaign financing and pay more attention to their constituents instead.
The legislation would limit the dollar amount on campaign contributions while making available a central fund created by new fees on TV broadcasters who pay currently don’t pay anything to use the public airwaves. Funds raised in small increments (up to $250) from the public would be matched by money in the central fund.
Supporters of the bill, led in large part by Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford professor and reform activist, have already launched a “donor strike,” where individual constituents in Congressional members’ home states pledge to withhold their donations until their respective Congressperson supports the bill.
Some Google employees lent their expertise to help create Change-Congress.org’s “Whip” tool, which keeps track of Congressional supporters of the Fair Elections Now Act, how much each politician has lost so far in constituent donations, and offers a “Whip” button leading to the Congressperson’s phone number, complete with examples of what to say to them.
The amount each representative has lost so far in individual contributions varies from state to state and district to district, but likely citizens have the attention of California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who’ve lost a combined total of $563,000 so far. New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer have lost over $120,000 a piece. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have each lost over $60,000 so far while Sens. Kay Hutchison and John Cornyn of Texas have lost nearly $50,000 in constituent donations.