‘Greenhouse’ effect lets US voters see political funding

Browser plugin aimed at increased transparency around funding of elected representatives

A 16-year-old in the US has pulled together data to create a free web browser plugin that shows financial contribution figures for each member of the US Senate and House of Representatives.

The project, named Greenhouse, was created by Nicholas Rubin to help provide "increased transparency around the amount and source of funding of our elected representatives".

Trinity College Dublin department of political science lecturer Michael Marsh told The Irish Times that while such an idea would be "nice to have" for Irish politicians, a lack of publicly available financial data on election campaigns and parties stands in the way.

Political parties “produce accounts, but there are certain sorts of things that are not there”, said Mr Marsh, adding that under current standards, parties “could get oodles of money coming in from all over the place” without all donations being divulged.


Were the information there, said Kevin Godden of software engineering consultancy Ridge Solutions, "it would be quite straightforward to implement" something similar to Greenhouse in Ireland.

“The trick is getting access to the information.”

John Savage, technical director with software development company Action Point, told The Irish Times that "without the data you're dead in the water".

Mr Marsh said that were such a tool to be applied in Ireland, voters would probably discover that “on the whole politicians get very little here”.