Browser Plugin Reveals Who Is Funding Your Congressperson
Money perpetually plays shenanigans in politics and it can be hard to keep track of who is funded by which organizations and lobbyists. 16-year-old self-taught coder Nicholas Rubin decided to make things a little bit easier by creating Greenhouse, a web browser plugin that will fetch campaign contribution data and display it on screen when you mouse over a Congressperson's name on a webpage. Rubin's motivation for creating the app:
Exactly one hundred years ago, in Harper's Weekly, Louis Brandeis made the frequently quoted statement that "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." Brandeis's preceding sentence in the article may be less well known, but it is equally important: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases." I created Greenhouse to shine light on a social and industrial disease of today: the undue influence of money in our Congress. This influence is everywhere, even if it is hidden. I aim to expose and publicize that disease through technology that puts important data where it is most useful, on websites where people read about the actions, or inaction, of members of Congress every day.
The app pulls data from OpenSecrets.org, and while it still needs a little tweaking - it sometimes mistakenly highlights close matches for names and doesn't always recognize names depending on a site's formatting - it's an immensely informative plugin for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.