Follow The Money

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Burl Humana

Deep Throat was the mysterious character who said ‘Follow the money!’ in “All the Presidents Men”, a movie about the Watergate scandal. 30 plus years since Watergate and now that Deep Throat has revealed his true identity few still remember this scandalous political event. This gives us good cause to carry the torch for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and against the corrupt powers of money that can subvert our democratic freedoms. However, carrying the mantra ‘Follow the money!’ can be a double edged sword if we are not careful how Deep Throats message is applied.


The U.S. Congress passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (U.S.A Patriot Act) Act in 2001. This legislation expanded government powers to follow the money in an effort to intercept and obstruct terrorism around the world. Following the money has revealed money laundering and corruption by terrorist groups as allowed by the Patriot Act. The downside of this law is that government now has expanded authority for public surveillance, which creates right-to-privacy concerns.


Following the money is a valuable technique to trace corruption and is used by political parties, religions, the military, social activists, farmers, the health care industry, education, the federal government, local governments, science, corporations and just about everyone who wants to track what their opponents are doing. Money is liquid and powerful. The trail of a corrupt operation can be determined by tracking the source and use of money.

In the case of Watergate, an investigation of the links between James W. McCord, Jr and the CIA, determined that McCord received payments from the Committee to Re-elect the President (CREEP). McChord was one of the burglars discovered and arrested for breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. The money trail quickly suggested there was a link between the burglars and someone close to the President. Richard Nixon was later impeached as the president of the United States because of the Watergate scandal.

Corruption is a general concept describing any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system's original purpose. Corruption happens in government when money is going to the wrong people or for the wrong reasons. This happens with both political contributions and federal subsidies. Watchdogs groups in Washington D.C. and around the country "follow the money" of political campaigns and lobbyist groups to determine if corruption exists. One such group called Follow Your Money,, has political giving information reporting that Wal Mart is the 9th largest contributor to the republican party giving three and one have million dollars. On the flip side government subsidies are also watched by activist organizations to determine if the system is being abused. Good Jobs First,, a Washington-based subsidy watchdog group found that one billion dollars of government subsidies have gone to Wal Mart over the years helping it become the world's largest retailer. You can determine for yourself if you feel the information points towards any link between political contributions and government subsidies.

Being personally informed about who benefits from the flow of money in political campaigns, lobbying efforts by business, or supply chains, for example, can help individuals see the corrupt influence of money on outcomes that affect our own lives. This does not mean becoming mistrustful of everyone. Instead of nourishing a negative spirit, promote a healthy perspective by staying informed about facts related to the flow of money by accessing various websites or other information that helps you form an opinion about financial influences. Some links that might be helpful to you in following the money are:, and

Informed voters in the State of Maine proactively passed a clean elections referendum in 2003 which encourages politicians not to follow the money. "Clean Elections is a practical, proven reform that puts voters in control of elections. Rather than being forced to rely on special interest donors to pay for their campaigns, candidates have the opportunity to qualify for full public funding which ends their reliance on special interest campaign cash. Being freed from the money chase means they have more time to spend with constituents, talking about issues that matter to them. When they enter office, they can consider legislation on the merits, without worrying about whether they are pleasing well heeled donors and lobbyists." (

"When the Maine legislature passed the Dirigo health care law, which would provide near-universal health care coverage for Mainers, a majority of legislators had won their offices under the Clean Elections system. "No private money meant no campaign contributions from hospitals, or insurers, or from any other big-money interest that might want to scuttle the Dirigo plan. “Publicly funded legislators were free to support this legislation without any concern for the big-money special interests that might oppose such a law,” wrote Rep. Jim Annis, a Republican, and Rep. John Brautigam, a Democrat, in a piece for the Hartford Courant in October 2005." (Nancy Watzman, Yes Magazine, 2006)


Following the money is an effective tool to detect corruption and terrorism. However, not following the money seems like an even better tool to accomplish positive goals like clean elections and universal health care without giving up important constitutional rights like the right to privacy.

Verbiage for pattern card: 

"Deep Throat" was the mysterious character who said "Follow the money!" in All the Presidents Men, a movie about the Watergate scandal in the United States. The trail of a corrupt operation can often be determined by tracking and publicizing the source and use of money. Following the money is a simple, valuable, and sometimes dangerous approach to uncovering corruption.

Pattern status: