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The influence of money, power and people in Silicon Valley

Team                                                 Valley's Influence
Location                                             Stanford University

We are interested in the Tech sector's influence on politics. Specifically, we're looking at the campaign finance donations to politicians and committees.

We would like to trace how money flows from the biggest donors in Silicon Valley (both companies and individuals) to impact immigration policies. Our goal is to link the contributors and their employers to the recipients and their committees with data about how the recipients voted on bills in the House and the Senate. 

We believe there are insights about how Tech companies in the Valley are pushing for immigration reform on H1-B visas to loosen the requirement in order to retain more talent. 

Currently, there are approximately 65,000 visas issued each year to applicants who have specialized skills. The applicant's employer sponsors the applicant for an H1-B, commonly called "working visa."

Recently, the news has been reporting on stories about tech companies that are lobbying and pushing for reform on immigration, especially around opening up more slots for the H1-B and removing some of the requirements, such as the quota system. There is a set number allocated to citizens of China and India, for example.

by Russ Britt, MarketWatch

We collected information about the number of entries into the U.S. on H1-B visas. We would like to track the distribution of H1-B visa (Temporary Workers and Trainees: Specialty Occupations) for Non-immigrant Aliens but we couldn't find the information freely available online (it may require a FOIA request). 

1 map of the tech industry's political donations by state
1 network model of the donors to recipients weighted by amount of money


1. Our map visualizes the Tech industry's trend of spending on campaign financing over 1999-2012 by state
- California has been the top donor from 1999 and consistently donates the most money of all states from $17 million in 1999-2000 to $25 million in 2011-2012. 
- The interesting trend is that the the money was fairly diluted early in the decade in the Western states and the middle of the U.S. 
Over time, money from states like Utah, Arizona and Nevada have increased and decreased.
Towards the end of the decade, the largest money flows come from the coastal states, in particular Washington, California, Texas, Florida and New York.

2. We looked at the contributors' employers because donations come from individuals, committees and companies. So we thought employers would be more interesting to see what companies the donors are affiliated with. 

The top donors in tech: 
1. Microsoft
2. Google
3. Homemaker
4. Self-employed
5. Intersystems Corporation
6. LinkedIn
7. Zynga
9. Intel
10. Bgc3 LLC

The top recipients: 
1. Obama Victory Fund
2. Dnc Services Corp
3. Barack Obama
4. Republican National Committee
5. Priorities USA Action
6. Mitt Romney
7. Restore Our Future
8. Democratic Senatorial Campaign
9. Yes on 1240 Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools
10. Democratic Congressional Campaign



What we used? 
ExpressJS on top of NodeJS, Google Fusion Tables, Google Refine

Where did the data come from? 
Influence Explorer, Dept. of Homeland Security

Potential and Insight

Michael Siedlecki msiedlecki (at)
Anna Li annali (at)