Comments: 419 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

jpe7770 karma

Do you feel any responsibility to make it clear that contributions from company X are actually contributions from employees of company X?

It seems that a lot of people confuse those two and are left with the impression that corporations are making direct contributions to candidates.

That confusion is due, in part, to the way Open Secrets and others frame it.

solomonkahn96 karma

Yes, I do, and I will try to be more clear in future videos.

The challenge with this is that there is a spectrum of when we don't care about the company relation versus when we do care. We don't care what company your college friend who donates $200 works for, but we do care about the company affiliation when the entire c-suite gives the maximum donation to a politician in charge of the regulators of their company.

ToTheDark66 karma

Who is your favorite politician, and where do they get their money?

solomonkahn163 karma

My favorite politician is Teddy Roosevelt, but unfortunately we don't have data going back that far!

snoopronsha58 karma

What about Ron Paul?

solomonkahn30 karma

zenontherocks7 karma

Can you do Dianne Feinstein?

solomonkahn10 karma

ask this as a top level question

Ole_Carl37 karma

Oklahoma here. Where does Jim Inhofe get his funding? Also thanks for helping me get through differential equations!

solomonkahn33 karma

Here you go! Inhofe raises a lot from the energy and financial industries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cR9Se7Q3Nb4

Bentumbo29 karma

Are you a crunchy or smooth guy when it comes to peanut butter preference?

solomonkahn98 karma

On sandwiches, smooth. When eating out of the jar with a spoon, crunchy.

Smmaci25 karma

My school is in Jim Boehner's district, so I'd like to know where he gets his funding?

solomonkahn41 karma

Do you mean John Boehner?


What are your ideas on campaign finance reform?

solomonkahn44 karma

I think we should create a viable way for politicians to run for office while representing the people of their districts, instead of needing to please the funders of elections before they can feasibly run for office.

This means some sort of public funding of elections: whether to match and amplify the donations of small money donors, or to give people a certain amount of money each election cycle they can donate to the politicians of their choice. I'm flexible about the method, but I don't think any of us should be flexible about the end result.

zenontherocks9 karma

What do you think of Rand Paul's idea to have any government contracts for any business include a clause that they will not lobby or finance campaigns?

solomonkahn7 karma

I'm not familiar with the specifics of his proposal, so can you explain a bit about how it would work?

I would support corporations being unable to donate money to influence political campaigns.

Would Paul's prohibition limit the company only, or also include the people employed by those companies?

zenontherocks4 karma

I believe it's just at the idea stage at this point, but specifically I was referring to his commentary on Chris Matthews recent (5/29/15) interview on Hardball. It's in response to Chris Matthews question, which happens in this video at 8:17.

solomonkahn5 karma

I like the idea.

Sumthin4Nuthin2 karma

Have you came up with any good ideas on where to get the funding? Taxes on corporate donations??

solomonkahn7 karma

The actual amount of money involved with these ideas is quite small, compared to what the US spends each year. If we decided to actually fund elections this way, the cost would be very manageable.

The_Doja16 karma

Does Jeb Bush have to list all the money he's getting right now and from where despite him saying that he's "not a candidate" yet?

solomonkahn22 karma

No, he does not. Also, the plan seems to be for that money to be considered "independent" even though he was raising it for a super pac to support his presidency.

The thinking is that the FEC might fine the politicians who have been doing this (it's not just Bush), but that even if they do get fined, the fines would be much smaller than the amount of money they have been raising.

The_Doja16 karma

Do we get angry about this?

solomonkahn22 karma

Yes, we do.

The49ersBlow13 karma

I'm from Nevada, and curious where our leaders get their money from. Also, did the amount and sources of money for Harry Reid change dramatically when he became majority leader?

solomonkahn3 karma

bannibunny12 karma

What about Scott Walker?

solomonkahn4 karma

Unfortunately, Scott Walker is like Jeb Bush. They are currently pretending like they aren't running for President in order to raise ridiculous amounts of money that is not subject to FEC regulations.

After they've raise huge amounts of money for SuperPACs, they will launch their campaign, and those SuperPACs will be considered independent of the campaign.

They believe they will either be able to pass this as legal (which is quite questionable), or if the FEC fines them, it will be less money than they raised, so they still end up ahead.

fireforfear8 karma

Which candidates for president offer you the most and least concern as to the sources of their funding?

How do Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders score relative to the others?

Are there any surprises?

solomonkahn13 karma

I made some videos the other week on this topic.

Here's Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu7vHxxDHrw

Here's Rand Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWBoUPv51fg

HateTheEagles3 karma

The Hillary Clinton and Bernie sanders presentation was interesting. I think you should bring up the fact that Vermont is a lot smaller than New York. That might be one of the bigger reasons why Bernie Sanders isn't raising as much money.

solomonkahn4 karma

You're right I didn't mention that. Also, Clinton's first election was competitive, and her opponent also raised a lot of money. These screencasts aren't scripted, so sometimes I miss important things.

Luckily, after this tool is launched, everyone can do this research, so I don't need to worry about not being corrected :)

shaggorama6 karma

How has your tool changed since your last AMA? What are some new particularly interesting insights you've uncovered?

solomonkahn9 karma

Since the last AMA I've been hustling to try and include small money donations, but I haven't yet been successful in getting the data. I'm still working on it, and will definitely have that data included before I launch.

As far as insights, I've been spending all my time trying to include small money data, so nothing new, but I'm hoping we can find some interesting things during the screencasts today.

squall3332 karma

In your Ron Paul video you show that the FEC website has the small money data summary or are you looking for the detail behind the small money data

solomonkahn2 karma

I want to import that data in bulk into my system, for every candidate for the last 25 years. Getting it one candidate and one election cycle at a time would take way too long :)

squall3332 karma

I could pretty easily script that entire process

solomonkahn3 karma

It's not as simple as you might think, but if you want to give it a shot, I will gladly accept the data you scrape!

squall3331 karma

Do you have a list of every person you want data for?

solomonkahn3 karma

Every candidate record from this database: https://github.com/Solomon/opensecrets_to_postgres

chunga_955 karma

What about Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell? Would be interesting to see how much of a common donor base they share.

cmac__174 karma

Does your tool work on only the federal level or state/local levels as well?

solomonkahn5 karma

For this project, it sits on top of federal data, but the code is going to be open source, so you can take the visualization framework and stick it on top of state or local data.

cmac__171 karma

Awesome! Great to know! One other question about the software itself: Which language did you use?

solomonkahn2 karma

It's a ruby on rails application, and on the front end, uses d3.js, backbone, and a lot of plain old javascript.

WyMANderly3 karma

The Kickstarter pledge levels make it seem as though you're only creating visualizations for politicians who have someone "sponsor" them. But the video seems to suggest you want to make visualizations for all politicians. Which is it? I'm not asking as a "gotcha" question, I'm genuinely confused.

solomonkahn7 karma

This tool will have access to over 24,000 politicians. The visualization framework is a program which you build once, and then it works for any politician, so not only the ones who get sponsored.

Anyone can look at any of those 24,000 politicians, without restriction.

jebba2 karma

Will you fix your software licensing? You claim that your software is open source. But your license here is not an open source license:

The CC by SA NC license is NOT Open Source. See:

Please release your code under an Open Source license such as the GPLv3, or stop claiming that you are releasing it under an Open Source license. Will you correct your licensing?

solomonkahn7 karma

The reason I licensed that repo as Creative Commons, was because that's what OpenSecrets requires. That repo is not the repo for this project however, it's just a repo for the database creator.

Before I launch this tool, I'll do some additional research into the different versions of open source licenses.

Glen_Zheng2 karma

Would you say Americans overall understand that large organisations can buy influence in the political system? And if so, has there been an outcry to change this system.

solomonkahn4 karma

Yes, I think that most people in American are upset by how much money is in politics, and I think everyone knows that money can buy influence.

I think that normal people feel powerless to change the system, because the game is rigged against them. The current people in power are the ones benefitting from the current system, and they would need to be the ones to change it.

One encouraging thing is there are some politicians, on both sides, who know the system needs to change. Also, there is a strong grassroots movement to fight against the influence of money in politics.

tyotya_grizelda2 karma

Joe Crowley of NYC?

solomonkahn1 karma

Here you go! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiZ3D-Nh5U8

Also, you live in my district :) He's my congressman also.

Kytoflame2 karma

How far back does your data go?

solomonkahn2 karma

Back to 1990.

Zomg_A_Chicken2 karma

Even though your last name is spelled differently, does anyone do the KHAAAAAAN! thing to you?

solomonkahn4 karma


Shotdownace2 karma

Mr. Kahn, your new project sounds like a great idea. I plan on donating in return for the amazing opportunity you provided me through Kahn Academy. If you dont mind, do you know how many videos, or hours of video there are on total on the Academy?

solomonkahn5 karma

You are confusing me with someone else :)

vitaq1 karma

Is your work dangerous in today's climate of politics and technology?

solomonkahn1 karma

Dangerous to whom?