Click to viewBill William Gates has only made one presidential-candidate campaign donation this season, and it was to Barack Obama. Meanwhile, although Steve Jobs' wife Laurene has given nice sums to each of the three leading Democratic candidates, Barack appears to be the apple of her eye, if you calculate that in terms of dollars. Steve himself is not in the registry. What's more, neither billionaire tech household donated a (traceable) penny to any of the Republicans currently running for office. Update: We have been informed that the William Gates referred to in the database is actually Bill's father. No other William Gates has donated any money to any candidate, and Melinda Gates is listed only as donating to the Microsoft PAC. As such, I have also changed the image from Bill 'n' Barack 'n' Steve to what looks like Barack Obama's Welcome Back Kotter audition photo, from his campaign site.

Around this time of year, I like to poke around in the MoneyLine campaign donation search tool at Congressional Quarterly's website. You can look up anyone you want—campaign donations by law have to be public. Sometimes the results are clear, as in the case of William Gates, "esecutive" (sic) of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Things are a tad murkier when it comes to Palo Alto resident Laurene P Jobs:

Given the number of Barack listings, it's clear that Laurene is a fan. She might even be too zealous: Is that -$2,300 line item a donation she had to take back for giving too much? Even if you nix that and one of the other $2,300 items (for a zero sum), Barack appears to be $2,300 ahead of both Hillary and John Edwards.

It is possible that I'm reading this wrong, although I've doublechecked it as best as I can. The real lesson here is that anyone can "follow the money." Want to have a go? Dive in, enjoy democracy and report back any weirdness you might happen upon. [CQ MoneyLine]