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Poligraft Adds Level of Campaign Finance Analysis to News Articles

The New York Times ran a very damaging story about Michael Bennet, and more specifically a deal between JPMorgan Chase and the Denver Public Schools, which has led to the bank gouging the school district for millions. These municipal deals have been long chronicled, most recently by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, and they’re absolutely gut-wrenching.

The NYT story raises more questions than answers (the main source for the story failed to foresee the same problems with the DPS deal as Bennet, for example), and I don’t know whether it should totally reflect on Bennet’s Senate primary, which falls on Tuesday. What I do know is that the Sunlight Foundation has come up with an awesome new tool to take articles like this and dig deeper in real time, with a widget they call “Poligrafting”:

One thing that’s missing though is the interconnections between a lot of the players in the article, especially now that Bennet is a senator raising money in a difficult primary election. That’s where Poligraft comes in and adds depth to this story.

As you can see on the Poligraft page for the story, J.P. Morgan has since contributed $3,000 to Bennet’s campaign and Level 3 Communications, another company mentioned in the story, has aggregated $19,550 to Bennet. You can also see that the industry contributing the second largest amount of money to Bennet is the finance, insurance and real estate sector.

This doesn’t tell the entire story about Bennet, but it adds a second level of analysis to it, and looks specifically at the intersection of campaign funds and political figures that doesn’t get addressed in this story.

The larger story here is really about the banks gouging the municipalities in often shocking ways. Michael Bennet is in a position to know a lot about that based on his DPS experience. He could speak out; but the web of contacts between Bennet and the FIRE sector could plausibly present problems for him in doing so. That’s what makes Sunlight’s Poligraft so powerful.

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David Dayen

David Dayen