In less than two weeks, the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts will take to the field for Super Bowl 44. While football fans get ready for the big game, our friends at the nonprofit investigative reporting site ProPublica are looking ahead to another set of potential winners and losers: Congressional candidates gearing up for the November races. As ProPublica's Amanda Michel and Marcus Stern noted:
The Super Bowl is America's most expensive sports spectacle, and it has long been used to rub shoulders, gain influence and form ties that help congressional candidates raise the approximately $1 billion they spend on their campaigns every two years. While most of us can't afford a ticket to the Super Bowl, we know the NFL sets aside a large number of them for public officials and corporations to buy at face value (the cheapest tickets are going for as much as $1,799 on StubHub). Politicians use the tickets to reward big donors, and corporations use them to reward politicians.
The stakes are extraordinarily high this year. The resurgent Republican Party victory in Massachusetts last week raises the likelihood of yet another record-smashing year of campaign fundraising in advance of congressional elections this fall. Last week's Supreme Court ruling, which allows corporations and other groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on ads for or against sitting members of Congress, also will trigger a spending spree.
ProPublica is looking for readers who can help call all 535 members of Congress to find out: who attended the Super Bowl last year, and who plans to attend this year?
If you're interested in finding out more about the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind closed skybox doors, consider helping out by following the instructions below. We'll collect your answers, and forward them on to ProPublica.
- Please call your own member of Congress first. You can find your congressional district with this handy tool. Contact information for all members can be found in the chart below.
- Make sure you get the name of the person you speak with (spelled correctly). The phone numbers we've listed are main-office numbers. The first person you'll get is most likely the office staff assistant, who handles incoming calls and routes requests. If the staff assistant doesn't know whether the boss attended last year's Super Bowl or plans to attend this one, ask to speak with the office scheduler.
- E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the person you spoke with, date and time, and what information you got. If someone promises to get back to you with an answer, let us know, so we can update our chart. You will be credited in the chart for helping us get this information.