Applaud App that Informs Consumers of Companies’ Political Contributions


Target: Matthew Colbert, Developer of BuyPartisan

Goal: Thank developers for creating an app meant to expose companies’ political contributions

One of the greatest benefits of the information age is that consumers are able to access more information about the products that they buy. People are becoming more aware of the ingredients used in their food and how it is made. One of the last areas in which people are still unaware is campaign financing. Many people have problems with Super PACs (Political Action Committees) because donors do not have to disclose themselves. Rich corporations or individuals can donate huge amounts of money to a campaign, and no one knows about it.

Corporations are thus able to influence elections by donating money to various campaigns or parties. Consumers may be inadvertently supporting parties or specific campaigns without knowing that they are doing so. However, Matthew Colbert, the developer who created BuyPartisan, is trying to bridge that information gap for consumers. By scanning the barcode of a certain product on a smartphone, consumers are able to see how much that company supports a particular political party. Many of these huge corporations, like Folgers or Campbell Soup, donate a significant portion of their profit to political campaigns.

This application is not necessarily meant for people to boycott certain products based on their political affiliation. It is just meant to make people more aware, and maybe sometimes choose one product over another. We live in an age where people want to know more information about everything, including what they are buying and what is behind that product. This includes ingredients, suppliers, and now, politics.  After the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision, some people want to become much more aware of the political implications behind their purchases. BuyPartisan is a tool — hopefully the first of many — to allow people to know more.


Dear Mr. Colbert,

The amount of information available to the public grows every day. In the past, people have demanded to know what goes in their food, and now ingredient lists are compulsory. People are starting to become aware of the suppliers that are used in making their products, like Foxconn and Apple. After the recent Hobby Lobby decision in the Supreme Court, people are beginning to try and understand the political implications of what they are buying.

Therefore, we appreciate your dedication to inform consumers about what parties they are supporting when they shop. While people are not necessarily going to change what they buy — people still buy iPhones even if they are aware of the treacherous conditions that people work in to create them — but making people aware is a crucial first step. We applaud you for at least opening people up to that the fact that companies they buy from do often hold political weight.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Sanwuisusp via Wikimedia Commons

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