Did you know that George W. Bush received $2,649,725 in oil contributions is his 2004 election campaign? Or that in 2008 Rudy Giuliani received $659,158, John McCain received $291,685 and that Barack Obama received $163,840? These and other bits of political trivia and insight come from a useful site that was recently Mashup of the Day: Follow Oil Money. The very well done and enlightening service is subtitled "tracking petroleum industry campaign contributions." It draws from over 8,000 contributions from 6000 companies to deliver a rich set of tools for searching and visualizing where the money comes from and who it goes to.
As co-creators Greg Michalec and Skye Bender-deMoll describe:
We've created a map of the political campaign contributions from companies in the oil & gas industries to politicians who are candidates for federal office. This is a relationship map of the contribution network. That means that unlike a physical map, where points are positioned at a geographic location, the icons for the companies and candidates are placed so that they are that they are as close as possible to whomever they contribute to or receive contributions from.
Another way to imagine it is like a molecule: the companies and candidates are like atoms, and the contributions are like atomic bonds. Or, one can think of it like the popular websites Facebook or MySpace, in which companies and politicians have become 'friends' by giving money.
Data comes from a variety of sources including the Sunlight Labs API, the Democracy In Action API, the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Center for Responsive Politics, and GovTrack.us. Skye provides more background on his blog.
The developers even let you know what tools they used to build it: MySQL, PHP, Graphviz, and the script.aculo.us and TableKit ajax libraries.