American Government; 3 Branches of the government


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Skills: The purpose of this assignment is to understand the influence of money and various special interest groups in US politics and the way in which increased influence may contribute to the blurring of lines between the three branches of government.

Knowledge: In the US, our Democratic Republic was set up in three distinct branches with the intent of dividing power so that each branch could check and balance the others. In recent years, many political scientists have argued: (1) as campaign finance rules have changed over time, the influence of money has come to play too big a part in who controls Congress (legislative branch); (2) in turn, those people who control congress also get to decide who is confirmed or not confirmed when there is an opening on the US Supreme Court (judicial branch); and (3) the executive branch has attempted to expand influence over the other two branches through recent Presidential actions. As another example, some have recently worried about the executive branch’s influence over the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the lesson 5 discussion, you chose a bill to explore and looked at how your representative or senator voted on that bill. Now, let’s follow the money that may have influenced that vote.

  1. Go to <>
    1. For background information: Scroll down the homepage and explore the different options for tracking money in politics. For example, there is a “Recent Reports” section that provides various Scorecards on Lobbying, information on Dark Money, and Political Action Committees (PACS). Explore the Learning Center at the bottom of the page.
    2. At the top of the page, click on the Candidates & Officeholders link and choose the Get Local option. Find one of your senators or representatives to Congress. Under their picture, click on their name in order to find their profile. You can choose different election cycles or Career details. Once on your senator or representative’s page, explore each of the links in the top navigation bar (Summary, Elections, Industries, PACs, Contributors, Geography).
  2. Identify three clues or areas of concern that might impact your congressperson’s votes.
    1. How much does your representative or senator receive in direct (hard money) donations, and where does that money come from?
    2. What Political Action committees, lobbyists, or other Special Interest Groups or donors might influence your representative or Senator’s vote on your chosen bill or other bills?
    3. Is there any evidence of soft or dark money? What about evidence of the representative or senator adding a porkbarrel project to the bill?
    4. Example area of concern: There is a Georgia congressperson who gets more money from out-of-state donations than from in-state. Why? Why might this be of concern?


The goal here is for you to assess how the money influences our representatives (House of Representatives) or senators (Senate) and in turn, impacts the other branches of government. Be creative here and think outside the box. Remember to support your ideas with valid points, examples from the course readings, or other trusted sources, and to cite those sources.

The Task: Write a minimum of 500 words.

  1. Introduction: Define terms key to your research, present three points of concern, and give a clearly defined thesis statement or main point of your paper. How to Write an Introduction Article by Grammarly.
  2. First through Third Body Paragraphs: In each body paragraph, discuss one point to support your thesis statement or main point of your paper.
  3. Conclusion Paragraph: Wrap up and summarize your points, especially as they pertain to the thesis statement or main point of your paper. In your conclusion, don’t forget to explain how an influenced congressperson might then influence other branches of government. Link the assignment to the material covered in class.
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