Ballot Bucks outs local campaign donors

Keeping campaign donations a secret is against the law. In fact, the rule in Arkansas says that no person can make an anonymous contribution to a candidate totaling $50 or more in a calendar year.

Of course, the chances that your co-workers (or employees) will ever find out who you gave money to have always been pretty slim. Until now.

Our friends at Ozarks Unbound launched a new site yesterday called Ballot Bucks which aims to answer the question, “Who’s really paying for the 2010 Primary Election in Washington County?”

In an effort to bring greater visibility to who finances local campaigns and how candidates spend their money, OU’s publishers Christopher Spencer and Johnathon Williams spent more than 150 hours entering in the names and addresses of every business and individual who donated money to political candidates in three local races – the District 92 State Representative race, and Division 5 and Division 7 races in District 4 Circuit Court.

“All of this information is available on the Secretary of State’s website, but it’s not searchable and exists across numerous documents,” Spencer said. “We wanted to create something that made the data valuable to the average voter.”

Wanna know who “Walmart Stores” favors in the Ramsey vs. Leding race? It’s there. Wanna search for the keyword “tyson” just to see how many results are returned? Go for it. (spolier alert: it’s six)

In the coming days, Spencer says additional information will be presented including campaign expenditures and additional financial reports. The site will be updated throughout the election season, he said.

Posting lists like this is becoming a trend, at least in Arkansas. Early last year, Arkansas Times published a list of Arkansans who are authorized to carry concealed weapons, following a similar move by the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The Times later removed the list after a barrage of harassment.

In April, made a splash with its list of Arkansans who signed the Family Council Action Committee’s petition in support of Initiated Act 1, the ballot measure that would keep gays and lesbians from adopting children or serving as foster parents. In response to KnowThyNeighbor’s list, conservative Arkansas political blogger Jason Tolbert posted a searchable database of the contributors to Arkansas Families First, the group organized to oppose Initiated Act 1.

Visit Ballot Bucks at