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List of every member of congress who supports SOPA, sortable by donations (sopaopera.org)
430 points by sgaither on Jan 8, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 121 comments

Biggest surprise among supporters: Al "Net Neutrality is the 1st Amendment issue of our time" Franken.

Among opponents: Bachmann.

Al Franken is totally owned by Hollywood and the music industry. The RIAA loves Al Franken. He's a complete hypocrite. Mr. "Net Neutrality" my ass.

Al Franken is a joke. Initially I thought he had good intent, but then I realized he's just another shit "actor" turned "politician". Unfortunately those words are more interchangeable than ever and reflects the current state of dismal affairs that is the United States government as a whole.

Actors possess most of the skills required to get elected. A successful actor starts out being well-liked, well-known and rich. They also have an easy time getting press and experience dealing with them.

Knowing what the hell you're doing is, sadly, not required.

> Knowing what the hell you're doing is, sadly, not required.

This sentiment is exactly why they can keep doing it.

It reflects an implicit (and unfortunately, widely held) assumption that they're trying to get elected to help their fellow men, constituents and otherwise do good.

Sadly, there is no supporting evidence for this assumption, and endless supporting evidence against it.

While I value competence and indeed vote with it in mind, it has not proven to be a prerequisite to getting elected.

Understanding the problems is an important first step towards solving them, but understanding alone is, obviously, not enough to fix the problems here.

"competence" on its own does not exist. Congress has shown time and again that they are competent investors (it helps to not be bound by insider trading rules, and to be exposed to non-public info, and actually vote on the results of your investment). They are also competent with their money - 50% of them are millionaires.

> understanding alone is, obviously, not enough to fix the problems here.

Which problem? Are you implying that elected politicians are trying to fix things for the average citizen? if so, why do you think that?

I thought it obvious that I was referring to the problems of the electorate and competence at solving them. Apparently you did not find that to be quite so obvious as I had thought.

There aren't any former actors, other than Franken (who was really a comedian, not an actor), in Congress. So I'm not really sure what you are talking about.

This is a big problem in USA. Actors turning into politics, Americans voting to get actors elected.... This is simply weird.

Sociopaths make the best actors, having no emotions, they act every second in an effort to appear human.

Whoa whoa, easy there partner. The guy if nothing has held to his Minnesota-first media policy.

Sadly the support for it is directly connected to where they get their money from (For democrats and republicans).

Here is Bachmann's top sources of donations:


Notice no Movie/Music Industry in the top 5

Then here is Franken's:


Time Warner is his number one supporter. I would imagine that they are for it.

Just checked, and Time Warner is on the list of supporters of SOPA:


> Sadly the support for it is directly connected to where they get their money from (For democrats and republicans).

Chicken or egg?

Time Warner is his number one supporter

OpenSecrets:"The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families."

The first clause is in red and bold.

(Edit:I apologize to the reader(s) who felt that directly quoting the links cited by the parent comment was objectionable.)

What is your point?

Yeah, Bachmann stood out to me, too. Really shows that even a broken clock is right sometimes.

Note that Rep. Ron Paul is the only current Presidential candidate that opposes SOPA.

Are you sure about that? Gary Johnson's website implies that he is firmly against not only SOPA, but internet regulation of any sort.


Implies? So what?

Gary Johnson is a presidential candidate. He opposes SOPA... Thus, there is another presidential candidate who opposes SOPA.

That's my question: does he or doesn't he? Does he merely imply or does he literally come out in opposition?

Unfortunately, I don't think Johnson is politically savvy enough to market himself online as one of the only anti-SOPA candidates. Don't confuse that with a lack of ideals or integrity.

Inaccurate. Romney opposes SOPA (http://merrimack.patch.com/articles/video-mitt-romney-slams-...). Others may too.

I have a question for my fellow HNers. Is SOPA a big enough deal for you that if Obama actually signs SOPA into law and the Republican nominee is someone who voices opposition to it, you'll vote Republican (for those who typically vote Democrat)?

SOPA has changed my political views. I used to be a democrat, but watching politicians discuss the internet has firmly convinced me that as little government as possible is for the best. I'll be voting for Gary Johnson, the little known libertarian candidate who sadly is too simple and honest a man to be elected.

Very possible since, at this point in time, I'm just looking for the least terrible candidate to get behind. I'm having trouble thus far since all have proved pretty terrible thus far.

Unfortunately that is what it comes down to when I vote... the lesser of the two evils.

I know I'm being overtly political and should probably be banned from HN for repeatedly endorsing a candidate, but you have an alternative: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Gary_Joh...

Johnson could benefit from an internet-savvy marketer. The campaign seems undermanned and underfunded.

Yes, but many are not members of congress currently - Romney and Gingrich being 2 specifically.

Opposing SOPA with a vote in Congress isn't the only way for real leaders to register dissent. There's no excuse for Romney or any other candidate to avoid informing the American public that as President, they would veto any future SOPA-like legislation restricting Internet freedom.

The media companies are all supporting SOPA, so anyone who opposes SOPA is probably worried about the repercussions of going public.

I can understand why they might be staying quiet, but I think it is weak and cowardly.

Also, former Senator Christopher Dodd is now CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.


Buddy Roemer opposes it :)

also thinks AIDS is the sufferer's fault :( In the end his internet might not be much better.

has nothing to do with SOPA

Unfortunately, the parent poster was pretty clearly advocating Ron Paul for president. This makes citing reasons for not wanting Ron Paul for president fair game.

This back and forth tedium is one of the reasons why Hacker News tries to avoid political posts in the first place. I'm afraid that legitimate criticism of the post requires you to actually debunk the claim.

The post was downvoted to the max, so apparently I'm not the only one that feels this way. Furthermore, I believe you are wrong on both statements you present as fact in your own statement.

Both California Senators (Boxer and Feinstein) are supporters (and co-sponsors!) of Protect-IP. Silicon Valley needs to make its voice heard, and soon.

And they both live in San Francisco - which shows that it is all about $$ and not about their political views or principles.

So this is one of the problems I can see with politics today: politicians have no views or principles you can count on. Everything is depended on how much money they get (of course they all stick and talk about wedge issues such as guns, gays, and god which are really stupid).

That is one of main reason people like Ron Paul: you know what you get.

It's interesting to me in part because I tend to think of the SOPA battle as being rooted in the age-old war between North and South -- Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. Attempting to cripple our industry is just a standard war practice. But to consider that the Senators are both SF residents makes me doubt the premise.

What if a coalition of California-based companies sent emails to their employees informing them of the potential harm this bill could do to their company (and thus each employee's livelihood) with an appeal to send a snail-mail or phone up their senators/representatives?

I think especially if the giants (Google, Facebook, etc) got significant amounts of employees to do it then our Congresspeople would take notice. Even if not I think there's enough influence on hackernews to maybe make a difference.

Of course this has potential in any state, but the concentration of software companies in California makes it particular interesting IMO.

Hollywood also lays in California...

No surprise about any of the Dems really: Piracy, copyright, and related issues have been issues for them for a long time, primarily due to their connections with the entertainment industry. It's too bad that they don't understand that hurting the consumer is going to kill the industries that fund them.

I was surprised there are more democrats for SOPA than there are republicans.

Why would that surprise you? Hollywood nearly owns the Democratic Party.

I'm not from the USA and my knowledge of your political system is mostly based on the daily show (& colbert report), so it always seemed to me, that SOPA is something that the republicans would be crazy about.

From a historical perspective, the Democratic support for corporate media stretches back at least as far as Lyndon Johnson. He and his wife were television station owners, and over their lives continued to grow their media holdings.

That, presumably, is one of the reasons Johnson knew how screwed he was when he (reportedly) said "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

Interestingly President Johnson's wikipedia page doesn't seem to make reference to the media holdings, but his wife Lady Bird Johnson's page does: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Bird_Johnson#Business_care...

Those sources are definitely not unbiased. I'm sure you know this, so you need to either temper them with some Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, or seek out some neutral reporting (sadly hard to find).

They may be biased but they're nowhere near the level of make-stuff-up and outright brainwashing that Limbaugh and Hannity are at so frequently. I wouldn't recommend those characters to anyone. Plus the Daily Show is primarily comedy rather than news, the news is incidental to understanding the comedy. I get my primary news from non-US websites like BBC and Al Jazeera (and tech-specific websites like Ars for interesting news) and what floats over to HN, occasionally I'll watch a few youtube channels, if I feel like paddling down piss-creek I'll watch CNN which is probably what the GP is looking for if they want modest bias in the other direction.

Well Rush Limbaugh is comedy too, in a "Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood-want-to-throw-up-in-your-mouth-it's-so-bad" kind of way.


Unfortunately many democrats live in areas where the Movie, recording industry is located...therefore they get lots of $$ from them. Thus the widespread support from both dems and republicans.

This depresses me even more:


Obama got almost $9 million from the Movie industry. I would suspect he would not veto it.

Makes you wonder how much worse things are going to get with the introduction of SuperPACs.

Exactly. Just imagine the cash flowing from the Movie/Music industry directly in their pockets. With that happening I don't see how it can be stopped. They will just keep trying.

I also think that instead of backing down from supporting legislature like SOPA in the future with all the backlash, they'll just stop supporting it publically.

Much of Hollywood/traditional media leans left. Most of the Dems against it are in the Silicon Valley.

California's Dems are co-sponsors.

Democrats tend to favor government regulations of any kind, while Republicans are somewhat more likely to oppose them in general. So it doesn't surprise me at all.

This may have been true twenty years ago, but it is certainly not true today. Neither party is in favor of limiting government these days.

While you're right, that's why I wrote "somewhat more likely". Republicans may not favor limited government today, but on average they are still less likely than Democrats to support regulation. The OP's link demonstrates this tendency.

Except for regulations regarding who you can and cannot sleep with, what religions you may belong to, and whom you may marry.

If you want a "real Republican", vote for Gary Johnson. He's pro-choice and fiscally conservative.


News flash - party lines are meaningless .

Can someone use this data to figure out how much it would cost to make SOPA go away and then setup a kick starter project?

To me, this is proof positive that campaign contributions are correlative but not causal.

Google, Facebook and whoever else is going on a blackout before the vote, please link to the politicians who support SOPA, too.

The people deserve to know it, and they need to be put against the wall for it, not only so they can't be re-elected again because of this, but also so others don't try to support it, too, fearing the backlash.

It's sad to see that for almost ever 1 SOPA opposing member on the list, there are about 4 supporting members.

Yeah. After seeing this, I'm pretty sure SOPA will pass...

IMO the only way to prevent SOPA passing would be Google/Facebook/Wikipedia going the "nuclear option" and putting up a click through page - short of that I doubt something this widely supported would get stopped.

The site does not list every member of Congress.

"...every congressmember who supports..."

There's listings by state and by bill...so everyone in the House is at: http://sopaopera.org/sopa/

I should have been clearer. I mean that lists presented on the front page aren't necessarily reflective of the whole voting Congress. One can just as easily say for every opposing member there are twenty whose opinion is unknown, which I think carries a different connotation.

Yeah but politicians who don't have to take a stance yet (i.e. by sponsoring) might just go with status quo...wasn't DMCA passed with a unanimous vote?

Unclear. "Aug 4, 1998: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote. A record of each representative’s position was not kept."

However, it's probably not good to assume that anything goes through congress unanimously without being sure: http://www.theonion.com/articles/ron-paul-promises-to-return...

Wish there was a way to view who funded them more, basically ($TV|Movie) - ($Online|Internet)

I wish the table of underlying data was available so that a logistic regression could be run to see whether variables like campaign contributions do indeed predict support for SOPA after age and number of years served have been partialled out.

The data is pretty easily accessible as JSON - however, here's the data I used: http://pastebin.com/nRYv40U8

Firstly, a boxplot with the quotient of entertainment contributions to entertainment & internet contributions.


You can see quite easily that there's a difference which is also significant (95%, t = -4.73).

I've also done a logistic regression correcting with age, party (is_democrat), seniority and quota of contributions (quota_ent).

       support |      Coef.   Std. Err.      z    P>|z|     [95% Conf. Interval]  
           age |   .0258551   .0358136     0.72   0.470    -.0443382    .0960485
   is_democrat |  -1.252883   .6243361    -2.01   0.045    -2.476559   -.0292067
     seniority |  -.0262688   .0381962    -0.69   0.492     -.101132    .0485943
     quota_ent |   5.839435   1.447732     4.03   0.000     3.001933    8.676938
         _cons |  -1.968467    2.01512    -0.98   0.329    -5.918029    1.981096
The AUC is 0.8089 which is quite okay. Furthermore, it would be interesting to test whether location is a significant factor.

Edit: @adamtaylor: Here's a scatter plot with each contribution, transformed with log(1 + x) for readability: http://i.imgur.com/MRciL.png

Hmm, that scatterplot suggests a less straightforward relationship; the for/against dots look like they plausibly came from slightly different distributions, but not very much different ones.

Isn't that what the "$ Difference" sort shows? Or did they just add that?

Just added

EDIT: This shows as a ratio (+$ from internet : no difference : +$ from movie).

For - 23 : 3 : 55 0.28 : 0.04 : 0.67

Against - 15 : 0 : 6 0.71 : 0 : 0.28

So ~70% of people who received more funding from one party support the bill accordingly.

Very depressing. Almost without any exception (I admit there are a couple) every single for or against can be determined by how much money they get from the computer industry(Against) or from the Music / Movie industry (For).

All of this happens across party lines...

I'm having trouble reconciling this assertion with the fact that I can open the submission, sort by "online/internet" and it seems that those in the supporters column receive substantially larger amounts of money from "online/internet" than do those opposed.

I agree. TV/Movie money seems like a pretty good predictor of vote, but online/internet money much less so. But I'd still like to see an x-y plot with each congressperson a point, and TV/Movie money on one axis, online/internet money on the other, with each point colored by their vote. Then you could really see how separable the two populations are.

For one thing, these are donations in the 2010 cycle. Secondly, all of the top-receiving lawmakers in the "for" category are some of the most senior members of the Senate...and/or represent California, which will have high numbers of constituents from both entertainment and online industries.

Why is that depressing? If your company were going to make a political contribution, wouldn't you pick politicians whose record indicates they agree with your positions?

Sorry, I meant to upvote you, but misclicked and now you're greyed out. You're making the post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc point here, right?

Donations of any sort to people running for office should be banned outright without exceptions. It should be worth something to tax payers that politicians cannot be bought.

People should check out Lawrence Lessig's recent appearance on the Daily Show:


He really does a good job characterizing the effects of money on politics, and outlines some cool ideas for sort of "shims" on the way to more complete campaign finance reform (which would take action from congress, and I guess a constitutional amendment or two).

But the thing that struck me the most was his point that fixing the corrupting influence of money on politics isn't like trying to do something like reverse a culture of racism: it's much easier. We just have to change the incentives.

Result: instead of donating to their preferred candidate's campaign, donors will now run their own campaign promoting that candidate. Try banning that without running into the First Amendement...

A law stating/clarifying that only individuals, not companies, have first amendment rights would sort much of it out, coupled with caps on political donations per individual, including donations in kind (like sympathetic campaigns.) (I'm from UK, by the way, so I'm no expert on the US constitution, but we have similar issues here. Just trying to be logical - which always works in politics...)

I think banning direct donations would at least make it more difficult for those politicians that are motivated by financial gain. Money can buy all kinds of things, not just campaign ads.

Also, running an effective campaign for someone else without central coordination of the message is a lot more difficult than what's going on now. Such campaigns can easily backfire.

That's why I think the extent of political corruption could be reduced by banning donations.

Only a truly stupid person would run for political office in search of financial gain. The level of work is extremely high (hours like a startup) but the amounts of money are small. For instance the average House campaign is just a bit over $1 million, and that funds dozens of people working very long hours for almost a year. Compare to capital funding or revenue levels in business. People willing to work that hard could make a lot more money in almost any industry.

As hokey as it sounds, people get involved in politics because they want to change the world. It is the natural end result of activism like we are seeing around SOPA. It's possible that at some point, someone fighting SOPA will decide to work for a candidate or run for office themselves. At that point they'll need to start raising funds. Will that corrupt them automatically? I don't think so.

I believe they want to feel the power, they believe they're "serving" the public, making a financial sacrifice exactly because they could earn a lot more outside of politics. I think this combination could lead some of them to believe that they deserve to earn more money for their hard work.

Also, it's not unheard of that some politicians are opportunists without very strong convictions one way or the other. At least that's what I sometimes feel when I hear them talk about stuff in a way that betrays utter incompetence.

Politicians already make a lot of their wealth from insider information. Even if you somehow stopped all donations, corporations would just trade more knowledge for favors.

Politicians should be prohibited from direct investment, both during and sometime after serving. Doesn't stop someone from enriching some partners who agree to pay him back at some later date. There probably is no end to the corruption.

I think that letting foreign companies shape our legislation is such a manner ought to considered at best a stones throw from treason.

This is good advice if you choose to contact someone in congress about this issue.


I contacted my senators.

Is there a site that lists all of the candidates running against pro-SOPA/PIPA representatives? Better yet, a site that allows me to give money to their opponents for the next election cycle (provided they're not pro-SOPA either)?

I would like to see the congresspeople who haven't openly supported or opposed SOPA. Those people represent opportunities for education.

What I don't understand is why these donation amounts are so low. Do these reps really only get around $25k an industry on average? Do they use these donations personally like it's extra pay or for campaign expenses? Is there a lot more money that we don't see?

Something we don't necessarily see is what sort of after-retirement deals they have lined up that may be in the millions. I'm sure there are other sources as well. But in general, politicians are pretty cheap.


Like Chris Dodd becoming CEO of the MPAA who is reportedly being paid $1.5 million a year as his base salary.

I'd like to see this combined with the SOPA UPC scanner to further cross reference the manufacturer's (and their parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, and...) political donations.

You know the world has gone mad when Al Franken supports SOPA and Michelle Bachman opposes it.

Other possibility: your understanding of the world was flawed and needs to be adjusted. You were mad.

Alternate title: List of congressmen who have some idea of how the internet works

Reddit site has started implementing their protest. It is redirecting.

How the hell are both of California's senators FOR this bill?

Los Angeles, CA. Kinda big in the media sector.

republicans are more stridently in support of this measure

This might be a stupid question, but as a European not all too familiar with US political laws I have to ask:

How is it not corruption when senators and congressmens votes can be bought by companies or whole industries?

In order to understand this you have to understand that in American corporations are persons. When Mitt Romney said, "Corporations are people too" at the Iowa State Fair he wasn't sharing his own personal beliefs. Instead he was telling the truth. See Corporate Personhood[1] for more.

From this it follows that Corporations have the right to free speech. This is where the supreme court ruled[2] that it is unconstitutional to deny corporations the right to political speech.

The legal requirements are disclosures and that's why you hear "paid for by Americans for a better tomorrow" or something like that. Corporations don't directly give to campaign coffers, but through a series of transactions often via PACs (political action committees) it eventually gets to where it's going. It is illegal for PAC's to coordinate with the campaign, but this does happen in subtle and less than subtle ways.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood [2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Elec...

While this has been true for the past year, the linked page gets its data from OpenSecrets which tracks only hard money donations to campaigns. It's tracking almost entirely donations from people who work in the given industries, so I think it's misleading to bring up corporate personhood here.

It's not hard to imagine that hard money can be used as a proxy for soft money to some multiple. For example soft money is 78x what the hard money is.

Hard money donations are often given by corporations through PACs as well. The reason this is allowed? Corporations have personhood. Your other post is correct and I'm not down voting you, but if you really want to understand corporate money in politics you need to understand corporate personhood.

If anything the numbers are misleading, because all it really tells you how much people who identify their employer are really giving. That's just demographic data, not proof of a particular policy.

Uhh, campaign donations from corporations to politicans have been around for way longer than Citizen's United dude. That case is not the central issue here.

When they say "Time Warner gave $50,0000 to Senator So-and-So," that actually means "People who work for Time Warner gave a total of $50,000 to Senator So-and-So's campaign in donations of no more than $5000 each." It's illegal for a company to donate to a candidate. I think many Americans don't understand that either.

Also, surveys have shown that all those donors are giving because they already agree with the senators' views, not because they think they can influence them.

Right, except that Citizens United ruling by the supreme court allows corporations to spend unlimited funds on 'electioneering communications' (which was previously illegal under the McCain–Feingold Act). Steven Colbert has a 'super pac' which satirizes this state of affairs.

To answer the question, there is a grey area between bribery and lobbying. As long as the lobbyist does not violate the law by giving more money than is allowed to a member of congress, and by not explicitly saying that the money is for a vote (one way or another on a particular piece of legislation), it is not considered bribery.

Lobbyists will often take legislators on really fancy vacations that are called 'fact finding missions', where everyone stays at a really nice golf resort or something and the lobbyist hasn't actually given the legislator any money, so no laws have been broken. At the end of the day, the legislator can decide to vote however he/she wants, so again, they don't consider it bribery.

So, what is bribery of a legislator in the U.S.? You'd probably need someone on tape saying, "I'll vote yes if you give me 200 grand in this swiss bank account". (Or, more simply, see: Rod Blagojevich.)

It's certainly corruption, but it's corruption that's legal under our laws. There have been some attempts over the years to reform U.S. campaign finance laws, but they've failed (the people who make the laws like the system the way it is).

How are political campaigns funded in Europe? And don't large businesses have influence over politicians there too?

In some countries, the State funds political parties in proportion to their votes or some other parameter. Obviously this is never enough, so large businesses do have an influence over here as well. "Revolving doors" are a bit less common than in the US, but that's changing.

Note that corruption is not necessarily linked to the source of "original" funds. Italian politicians are the best paid in Europe... I rest my case.

As others have noted, the money isn't directly coming from companies, but from people who state those companies as their employers. So what's going on here may just be the "correlation does not equal causation" phenomenon.

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