About Your Lawmaker

It doesn't take a trip to Washington to get to know your lawmaker. Here are 10 things you can learn online.

1. Who is your representative?
Using your ZIP code, you can check Project Vote Smart's Web Site for the names of your current lawmakers.

2. What is your lawmaker's background?
Web sites for the Senate and House have links to lawmakers' official biographies, their committees, phone numbers, and mailing addresses.

3. Where does your lawmaker get his or her campaign money?
The Center for Responsive Politics analyzes how much of a candidate's campaign money came from political action committees versus individuals, as well as other information. Click on "Members of Congerss" and follow the menu options.

4. How much is your lawmaker worth?
The clerk of the House and secretary of the Senate compile annual personal financial disclosure documents, which gives a sense of a lawmaker's assets and income in broad ranges. The information is available at Center for Responsive Politics . Click on "Members of Congress", then search by name. When your lawmaker's page comes up, click on "Personal Finances" on the left.

5. What is your lawmaker's voting record?
Project Vote Smart compiles lawmakers' votes by year and issue. To see all the votes, go to Senate or House .

6. Who pays for your lawmaker's trips?
Go to the congressional travel section of the Center for Responsive Politics Web Site and click on "Search for People" on the left, then follow the menu options.

7. What bills has your lawmaker sponsored?
Check the Library of Congress .

8. Which candidates are your lawmaker supporting?
The lawmaker's page on PoliticalMoneyLine shows the amount contributed to other candidates and links to the recipients.

9. How do interest groups rate your lawmaker?
Go to Project Vote Smart and click on "Interest Group Ratings" on the left, then select your lawmaker's state. One you see the list of offices, click on "Congress" and then select your lawmaker.

10. How much clout does your lawmaker have?
To see how one group rates lawmakers according to power and influence, go to Congress and click on "Power Rankings: Full List" on the left. (Char's Notes: I couldn't find the link to Power Rankings. Maybe it's too early after the past elections to determine.) At this site, you can also write letters to your lawmakers' that will be hand delivered.