FUN WITH POLITICS….A few weeks ago someone emailed me to ask how they could make a political donation anonymously. Wanted to avoid getting put on a mailing list or a telemarketing list, you see.
I sympathize, I really do, but my answer was not reassuring: federal law prohibits anonymous contributions. You just can’t do it.
In fact, thanks to the web, political donations are not merely public, they are practically displayed in neon for the world to see. All you have to do is go here, type in a name, and up comes a complete donation history.
But what use to make of this? I tried typing in my address, for example, and found that not one single other person in my neighborhood has made a political contribution this year to a presidential campaign. (Irvinites in general, however, show a distressing tendency to make $2000 donations to George Bush.)
What else? How about bloggers? I tried entering the names of various well known bloggers but came up blank. The only top blogger to donate anything so far this year was Eugene Volokh, who is partial to Bush. (Although who knows about the mysterious Atrios, who would of course have to donate under his mysterious real name?)
You can also have fun with famous names. Rush Limbaugh hasn’t donated anything (probably saving up for his legal defense fund). Howard Stern gave $1000 to Joe Lieber ? oops, no, that’s a different Howard Stern. The real one doesn’t live in Brooklyn, does he? Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ponied up $2000 to Bob Graham. Donald Trump ? wouldn’t you just guess this? ? has donated two grand to both Kerry and Bush.
Lotsa fun. Try it out yourself!
UPDATE: Mark Schmitt has some thoughts about the privacy implications of all this. In fact, it was his post that reminded me to write about this subject, and then I forgot to link back to him. D’oh!