Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

Meet the Death Merchants! They consist of: William Evans-Phelps, aka “Chylite,” a 26-year-old Chicago native who has lived in the Coachella Valley for nine years; Kyle “Nolan” Holcomb, 26, a New Orleans native who moved to the valley when he was 5; Anthony Germaine Walker, aka “Lootenant,” 27, from Biloxi, Miss., who has spent the last seven years here after being relocated post-Hurricane Katrina; and David Lumpkin, aka DJ Lumps!, 26 and a Coachella Valley native.

Catch the Death Merchants this Friday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m., when they open for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St. in Indio. Tickets are $30 to $100; visit for tickets or more information.

To hear more of the Death Merchants, visit or

What was the first concert you attended?

Chylite: Heavy D, when I was really young. I’ve seen Wu-Tang in Chicago, Twista, Juicy-J … but the most influential concert I went to was with my mom in Vegas—we saw the “Ladies First Tour” with Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé—mostly because of the artistic production that went into it.

Nolan: David Lee Roth at the Del Mar (Calif.) Fair, I went with my dad. It was the first display of “rock-star showmanship,” with karate kicks, Spandex and microphone-licking.

Lootenant: The first concert I ever attended was a Snoop Dogg concert in Mobile, Ala., where I actually opened up for Snoop at age 17.

Lumps!: The first concert I actually remember going to was a DJ Quik concert at the House of Blues in Hollywood when I was 17 or 18. I don’t know if that’s the first concert I ever attended or if that was just so monumental that I can’t remember anything else, but he played with a 13-piece band with a horn section, guitars and a rad drummer. I knew Quik was a genius, but that’s when I fell in love with the idea of a band playing behind a hip-hop artist.

What was the first album you owned?

Chylite: The first one I ever owned was something my mom gave me, because, ironically, she wanted me to stay away from the “gangsta rap”: Al Green’s Greatest Hits. The first one I ever bought, though, was Master P’s No Limit Compilation Vol. 3 (West Coast Bad Boyz, Vol. 3: Poppin' Collars).

Nolan: Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony’s E. 1999 Eternal. My mom got me the cassette tape on the way to visit Alcatraz! I had just been in an “extreme sporting accident.” I broke my arm and was in a cast. My mom hooked it up!

Lootenant: Master P, Ghetto Dope.

Lumps!: I remember when I was in middle school; one of my mom’s co-workers took me to his car to show me his new system he just installed. He was bumping Dr. Dre, Chronic 2001. I asked if I could borrow it so I could make a copy; he gave it to my mom to give to me, but she wouldn’t let me have it because of the lyrics. I actually stole that out of her purse and played it off like I didn’t know where it went.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Chylite: Besides the Death Merchants? As far as groups go, I’m into The Budos Band, Slaughterhouse; I am anticipating the next Clipse album.

Nolan: G.O.O.D. Music. I listen to a lot of Incubus. I’m into a lot of downbeat Audio-Technica like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd.

Lootenant: Kendrick Lamar, B.o.B., The Game, T.I.

Lumps!: Definitely listening to that new Jesus Piece album by The Game right now, and I have to listen to Death Merchants, because I mix and master everything we do.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Chylite: Country music, but not the new stuff; it’s the old-school country I just don’t enjoy.

Nolan: Dubstep. Being that I’m a performer, when there is a DJ onstage, I’m still waiting for the show to start, but it never happens. The music is cool, but far too much credit is given to “cut-and-paste" DJs.

Lootenant: Lame rap artists with no lyrical content who seem to sell millions of records.

Lumps!: I feel like, as a producer, I need to understand all genres of music. Especially with hip hop crossing over into so many different genres now, I have to look at what the average person likes and try to incorporate that into our music. I want to have something for everyone. I make beats using samples of electronic dance music, but I definitely do not listen to EDM, because I’m just not into that type of music. I’m more of an old-school/hip-hop head.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Chylite: If you would have asked me that question five years ago, I’d probably have said Jay-Z, but I don’t like the new Jay-Z. … Honestly, I’d probably want to go see Stevie Wonder.

Nolan: James Brown, The godfather of soul will never be imitated. He came to a local casino just before the time of his death, and I regret not seeing him.

Lootenant: Eminem.

Lumps!: When I was younger, I had tickets to see Run-DMC, Aerosmith and Kid Rock in Worcester, Mass. For some reason, we didn’t end up going, but I would have loved to see Jam Master Jay and Aerosmith rock that stage together.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Chylite: If I have two 12s in the back of the Suburban … probably some crazy metal music like System of a Down.

Nolan: I have one more embarrassing than the other. The first is Insane Clown Posse; I hold my head in shame. I’ll lose some cool points with this: I like Linkin Park. And New Found Glory is the least-gangster thing I do!

Lootenant: Justin Bieber.

Lumps!: I love that cheesy ’80s music—A-ha’s “Take on Me” and Eddie Murphy’s one-hit wonder “Party All the Time.”

What’s your favorite music venue?

Chylite: To perform at, I’d say The Date Shed. They have that green room with the stripper pole, and the lighting is impeccable. To actually go and see a show, The Key Club (in West Hollywood), because no matter where you are, VIP or downstairs, it’s all cool.

Nolan: The Glass House (in Pomona). I have yet to investigate how to book that venue, but one of my goals is to perform there.

Lootenant: The main stage at the Coachella festival.

Lumps!: I love playing at The Date Shed; it’s a smaller venue, so it’s more personal, and it’s at home.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Chylite: I have two. “Put in work like a Death Merchant, dope as fuck, meth burnin’, exorcist lyricist got em hurlin’ with their heads turnin’,” by Nolan Lowlife; and, “If they don’t want it with ya boy, then why they testin’ me? I told them haters I don’t like Patron; I drink V.S.O.P,” by Lootenant.

Nolan: Something I live by: “Hustlers never sleep, and sleepers never hustle,” “8 Rulez” by Lil’ Flip.

Lootenant: “My city lookin’ like a warzone; I’m in the hood wit’ a pocket fulla stones, they ain’t seein’ me dog, I’m so far gone, get a pair of binoculars, tell ’em watch my throne,” by Lootenant.

Lumps!: I have the hook of that song from DJ Drama, “My Moment,” stuck in my head. “Tired of livin’ day to day like everything is alright; every night just one thing on my mind. Just waiting on that moment.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Chylite: Jay-Z. He always personified that a dope-boy demeanor, refined, and is simply a businessman.

Nolan: Steve Miller Band. I’ve been with both of my parents to two different Steve Miller concerts; there are so many different layers of instruments and music. That band showed me what the magic of music can do.

Lootenant: Nas’ "Ether." This was one of the biggest diss tracks of all time. Even though Jay-Z had way more clout than Nas, Nas didn’t back down; he stood his ground and came out on top of one of the most controversial battles in hip-hop history.

Lumps!: Dr. Dre. This goes with my favorite album of all time, Chronic 2001, by Dr. Dre. Everything that went into that album, and anyone who was involved with that album, artists and production-wise, was just amazing. It changed my life. I fell in love with hip hop.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Chylite: I couldn’t ask an artist an artistic question—like, I’m a rapper, so I couldn’t ask another rapper how they stay relevant. I’d like to ask Trey Songz if he really likes kissing men. I really want to ask all these rappers: When they coming out the closet? Stop fakin’!

Nolan: I would ask Eminem for an hour of his time.

Lootenant: Dr. Dre: “When is The Detox really coming out, and what the hell are you waiting on?!”

Lumps!: I would ask DJ Quik if I could have permission to do an updated, 2013 version of “Pitch in on a Party,” and have him collab with me on it.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Chylite: I want something epic—no sad songs; I want there to be a party, blunts lit, bottles pourin’ out and the song “Black Republican” by Jay-Z and Nas playing in the background.

Nolan: Frank Ocean, “Dust.”

Lootenant: Tupac, “I Ain’t Mad at Cha.”

Lumps!: Lil’ John, “Get Low,” as I’m being buried.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Chylite: Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt.

Nolan: Tupac, All Eyez on Me.

Lootenant: 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’.

Lumps!: Dr. Dre, Chronic 2001.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Chylite: “Completeness” by Chylite! Or any of the Death Merchants solo or group songs.

Nolan: John Lennon, “Imagine.”

Lootenant: Death Merchants, “The Introduction.”

Lumps!: People need to hear every Death Merchant song we have released. They’re all amazing. But one in particular, the song “Food Chain,” stands out to me the most. (Scroll down to hear it.)

His real name is Philip Maag, and the Cathedral City resident works in agricultural sales for his day job—but area music fans know him as Philvis, the lead vocalist (who also handles guitar, blues harp and ukulele) for The Deadbeat Daddies. Catch the Daddies at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 5—just as you can every first Saturday—at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert. There's no cover, and the Daddies will be joined by The Buzz Jumpers. Check out The Deadbeat Daddies' Facebook page for more info.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Doobie Brothers.

What was the first album you owned?

Led Zeppelin II.

What band or bands are you listening to right now?

JD McPherson.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?


What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Janis Martin.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Writing music.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Irvine Meadows (now known as the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, Calif.).

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

"I'm gonna shadow my baby. ... Find out where my money goes," from "Shadow My Baby" by Glenn Barber.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Elvis and Led Zeppelin, as they introduced me to rockabilly.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Buddy Holly: Where did he get his sound and ideas from? They were different and fresh for the time.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"Sleep Walk," Santo and Johnny.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Led Zeppelin II.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Our new original, "Livin' Doll."

Thursday, 29 November 2012 17:00

The Founding of the 'Independent': The Reaction

While most people in the Coachella Valley have yet to learn about the founding of this fine publication (which, given the sorry state of the newsmedia in the valley, is no surprise), the Independent's launch has been covered substantially in Tucson, Ariz. (the soon-to-be-ex home of the founder, aka yours truly) and in alternative-newsweekly circles.

Here are some links to some of that coverage:

Tucson Weekly, 'Weekly' Editor Jimmy Boegle Leaving Paper at End of Year, Heading to the Coachella Valley: "Boegle, 37, has seen the impact of alt-weeklies, both while growing up and working in his hometown of Reno, Nev., and during his 10-year stint with the Weekly, a publication he argues has played a significant role in Tucson’s arts community since its launch in 1984. He hopes the Coachella Valley Independent will be the publication that helps spark a similar blossoming there."

Tucson Weekly, Danehy: Yet another 'Weekly' editor will be departing soon—but Tom will miss this one: "Jimmy's leaving us to start (along with his partner, Garrett) his own paper in the Coachella Valley part of California. The Coachella Valley, best known for its rowdy springtime music festival, has an official motto of 'At Least We're Not Imperial Valley.' It sounds like more of a challenge than an opportunity to me, but I certainly wish him the best.", 'Weekly' editor Boegle leaving to found Palm Springs news site: "The 37-year-old Boegle said he plans to launch a print version of the Independent in the fall. The plan's been in the works for a while, at least in a conceptual way; Boegle first registered the domain name in 2007."

Inside Tucson Business, 'Tucson Weekly' editor Boegle to launch Palm Springs pub: "(Boegle) had his eye on the project for years since putting together a business plan to launch the alternative publication in a market that doesn’t have one."

Association of Alternative Newsmedia/, 'Tucson Weekly' Editor Jimmy Boegle Leaving to Launch New Publication: "With the Coachella Valley Independent, Boegle will attempt to bring 'honest-to-goodness ethical' journalism to the areas surrounding Palm Springs."


Monday, 12 November 2012 08:50

Introducing the Coachella Valley Independent

Ever since I was an intern at the Reno News & Review in the summer of 1996, I have been something of a newsweekly nerd.

Every time I’d visit a new city, I’d scour newsracks and bookstores for the local newsweekly. I love the mix of hard-hitting local news, compelling commentaries and unmatched arts-and-culture coverage.

Sometime in the mid 2000s, I visited the Coachella Valley for the first time, when my significant other and I came to visit a friend. I did my usual find-the-newsweekly thing … and I couldn’t find one. There was the Desert Post Weekly, a weak Gannett-owned faux-newsweekly in which the locally produced stories could be counted on one hand. There was The Desert Entertainer, which seemed to specialize in coverage of events that took place at the local casinos. And that was it.

Meanwhile, Garrett and I started to fall in love with the place—the culture, the mountains, the diversity, and so many other things.

I decided to look into starting a real newsweekly in the Coachella Valley. Over several years, I crunched numbers, did interviews and got bids; I put together a business plan; and in the spring of 2008, I presented the plan to Wick Communications, the company I have worked for since November 2001, and for which I have been the editor of the Tucson Weekly since January 2003.

My plan was to start a print weekly, the Coachella Valley Independent, with a staff of about seven folks—in other words, I wanted to hit the ground running. However, the budgeted first-year financial loss—in the neighborhood of a quarter-million bucks—was unappetizing to the Wick folks, and understandably, they said no, especially since the economy was at that point showing sides of weirdness. Several months later, we’d all begin to realize that weirdness was actually the first manifestations of the Great Recession.

In the years since, I have visited the Coachella Valley several times every year, falling in love with the area a little more each time. During every trip, I’d think of that business plan. And I’d pick up every publication I could find. Some publications—the Desert Star Weekly and then later, the Coachella Valley Weekly—came. Others—like the LGBT-focused The Bottom Line—went. While some of the valley’s publications had their positive moments (as well as not-so-positive ones), I learned some of them were selling editorial articles to advertisers—and not labeling those articles as advertorials. That, combined with the continuing mediocrity of the daily Desert Sun, was disheartening.

As it stands right now, if a Coachella Valley reader wants honest community news coverage, or an unbiased food review, or just good, compelling writing, where can they go?

Enter the Coachella Valley Independent.

I, along with my partner, Garrett, have decided it’s time to make the leap. I have given my notice at the Tucson Weekly, and in January, we’re moving to the Coachella Valley so I can dedicate myself to the Independent full-time. We’re winging it as we do this on our own; the plan is to spend a good chunk of the year building up the publication online, and if all goes well, in the fall, we’ll launch a print version.

Seeing as we’re building this from nothing, there will be growing pains. We started the website from scratch, and as of now, it’s probably about one-third built. (Call it our very, very beta version.) Most of the content currently on the site is nowhere as in-depth as the content will be when we’re here full-time. And we’re doing this on a budget that makes the word “shoestring” sound generous.

But we’re going to pull this off. We love good, honest, true, fun journalism, and the positive effect it can have on communities. As we say on the (very, very beta version’s) “about” page: “We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire Coachella Valley. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain.

“We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. For example: Some other publications in this valley do puff-piece reviews or feature stories on advertisers to make said advertisers happy. We will never, ever do that. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.”

Welcome to the Coachella Valley Independent.

Thursday, 01 November 2012 16:42

The Indy Endorsement: Shanghai Reds Fish Tacos

What: The fish tacos (Baja fried or grilled)

Where: Shanghai Reds, inside of Fisherman's Market and Grill, 235 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $3.95, or $2.95 during late-night happy hour (8 p.m. to close)

Contact info: 322-9293;

Why: Because of the tortilla. Trust us.

These tacos aren't exactly a secret around these parts--they're perennial honorees in the Desert Magazine Best of the Valley competition (not that you should necessarily value such honors all that much)--but we're surprised at how many valley residents don't know about the delights at Shanghai Reds, the bar/casual area tucked behind Fisherman's (which also has a location in La Quinta).

The taco's ingredients are not that unusual: The taco includes white fish, topped with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, citrus and a tasty white sauce. What makes these fish tacos special is the wrapping--namely, the tortilla. It's a thick corn variety that spends a moment or three on the grill before meeting its contents, and that maize/char/yummy flavor ties the whole package together.

Somewhere along the line, far too many Americans settled for tortillas that are mere packaging--flavorless vessels to deliver flavor to one's mouth. Shanghai Reds reminds us that it's not supposed to be that way--and proves that a good tortilla can make oh so much difference.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 21:58

Snapshot: Arenas Road Halloween Costume Contest

Here are some exclusive Coachella Valley Independent iPhone CrapCam images from the Arenas Road Halloween Costume Contest!

A crowd shot at the Arenas Road Halloween Costume Party.

The crowd watches as various winners are announced.

Check out those legs!

Check out those legs!

An orange wig. A funny hat. Why not?

An orange wig, and then headwear that looks like the bastard cousin of a Hot Dog on a Stick hat. Why not?

Not a bad Wednesday crowd in Palm Springs ... even if it is Halloween.

Non-costumed folk watch the costumed folk.

And finally, just in time for Star Wars: Episode 7 in 2015: A stormtrooper.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 08:00

Annoyed by Telemarketers? Get Even!

(Editor's note: This was written by yours truly 14 years ago. [Gack, I feel old now.] We're posting it here, now, because in this age of annoying political phone calls, it still rings true, even if the reference to a CD club is just a touch outdated. Anyhoo, enjoy!)

Zzzzzzzzzz. I am very asleep. It is quite warm in this bed, and I am very, very asleep. I love sleeping in. Aaaahhhhh ...

"RIIIIIING!" says the phone. I jolt awake, and start cussing out the phone and the dweeb on the other end who dares to call me at this sort-of early weekend hour.

"RIIIIIING!" the phone insists. I decide to answer it, because I am awake now. Dammit.

"Hello?" I ask, wishing that visions of sugarplums (or whatever) were still dancing in my head.

"Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club."

"Um ... huh?" is my witty retort.

"Yes, that's right!" says Mort, who is trying really hard to sound enthusiastic, but is not quite pulling it off. "All you have to do is agree to buy three CDs at regular prices over the next year, and we'll send you eight free CDs of your choice NOW! What do you think, Mr. Blegle?"

"Bite me, Mort."

I hang up, and lay back in bed. I am awake now. Dammit, Mort.

I am too awake now to resume my peaceful slumber, and too disgruntled to yet start my day, so I just lay in bed and think of ways to get back at the Morts of the world ... those we call TELEMARKETERS.

I plot; I scheme. Over the next few days, I come up with some ways to get back a little at telemarketers. I thought I would share a few of these ideas; while they may not get rid of telemarketers, at least they'll make your dealings with telemarketers more enjoyable...

1. Come on to the telemarketer. I just think of the fun I could have had messing with Mort's head if I had thought of this earlier...

Me: Hello?

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me (with a low, passionate voice): Ooh, Mort. What are you wearing?

Mort (clearly confused): Yes, that's ri ... WHAT?

Me: (in a low, soft tone): Oh, Mort, your voice is soooo sexy. I feel I should tell you I am not wearing any pants. Hmmmm ...

Mort: GAAACK! Click!

At least, this is how the come-on technique should work. That telemarketing company will probably never call you back again, unless it is run by blatant perverts. But be careful; there's always a chance that Mort, if a blatant pervert, will enjoy your advances. This could be a real problem if he lives locally, because he has your phone number.

This technique may also seem a bit weird and too close to home if, like me the other morning, you really aren't wearing pants.

2. Talk like those teachers in the Peanuts television specials. This technique of annoying telemarketers is sure to confuse the telemarketer, and there is a much smaller chance that it will arouse the telemarketer. That is, unless he or she is a blatantly blatant pervert ...

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me: Waaa! Waaa waa? Waa wa wa wa waaaaa!:

Mort: Excuse me?

Me: Waaa wa wa wa waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Mort: Mr. Blegle, I am sorry we must have a bad connection. I'll try and call back.

Me: Waaaaa. No pants! Waaaa.

3. Act like you and a close personal friend are ... well, you know. But once again, you must be concerned about the pervert factor....

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me: Oh GOD! Oh, yes yes yes yes yes YES!

Mort: Gosh, Mr Blegle, that sure is a enthusiastic response!

Me (Gasping for air): Oh, please, yes. Yes! Harder!

Mort: Well, Mr Blegle! I will get your first CD out to you right ... harder?

Me: Oh, BABY! Yes! Harder! Harder!

Mort: WHAT???? Are you OK, Mr. Blegle?

Me: YES!!!!

4. Try and sell the telemarketer something yourself. This is sure to confuse him or her (and it's especially fun if you try to sell something that's actually free).

Mort: Hi! Mr. Blegle? My name is Mort, and I am calling to offer you eight FREE CDs if you join our music club.

Me: Wow! That's spiffy. Mort, can I call you Morty?

Mort: Why ... um, I guess.

Me: Let me tell you, Morty... right now, you can subscribe to the Coachella Valley Independent online for only $18 for three months! Ain't that a deal?

Mort: What? The Cockroach Velveeta who? No... I am trying to sell memberships to the CD club, and --

Me: But, Morty, buddy ... that's a quarter of a year for a mere 18 smackers? Come on, my friend.

Mort: I have to go. I am not wearing any pants! Click.

Now, these are just a few suggestions on how to mess with telemarketers. You, too, can come up with other ideas on how to deal with them, such as calling them to repentance (ADMIT you're a sinner, Mort) or pretending to speak only Pig Latin (Ite-bay e-may, Mort!).

Just whatever you do... have fun. Even if it's early, and you are blatantly without pants.

Unless you’ve been living under rock (and if you’ve been living under a rock, well, you’re probably not reading this brand-new local-news website), you know that Proposition 37 is Big News, both here in the Coachella Valley and around the country.

In summary: Prop 37, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would require that any food using genetically engineered ingredients be labeled as such (save meats, dairy products and booze). Proponents say that consumers have a right to know what they’re putting in their bodies; opponents say that such labels are unnecessary and would cause unneeded concern, since many scientists say genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe.

We at the Independent believe that more information is always better, so we think Prop 37 has more pluses and minuses. But there are minuses.

For your enlightenment and/or entertainment (and/or horrification), are some links to some links to Prop 37 stories, from news sources around the country, that cover those pluses and minuses.

This is a helpful Q&A if you’re just confused as heck, and you want the basics.

This piece points out that the American Association for the Advancement of Science—the folks behind Science magazine—thinks that labeling would "mislead and falsely alarm consumers."

This interesting, but flawed (see the intro editor’s note and the comments) points out how some science is hinting that there could be dangers lurking in genetically engineered eats.

Populist Jim Hightower, who’s a big fan of Prop 37, points out how some organic-food companies—who like Prop 37—have been exposing the fact that they’ve been bought out big food companies—who are decidedly against Prop 37.

This is a nice, recent primer on how much dough is being spent on the campaign, and by whom.

This article, despite some serious hyperbole, discusses some of the legal issues regarding the proposition.

So, there you go … a little light reading on an important topic.

Saturday, 27 October 2012 11:06

Easy Ways to Follow the (Political) Money

One of the biggest factors in today's political process is money.

No ... that's not right. Let me try again: By far, the biggest factor in today's political process is money.

The candidates who have it have a shot; the candidates that don't (including, I hate to say it, the vast majority of third-party candidates, good or bad), don't.

For a voter to be truly informed, he or she should look at where the candidates are getting their dough.

First, a caveat: The Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision has made it more difficult than ever to truly follow the money. In today's political world, some so-called PACs and business leagues and whatnot do not have to disclose their contributors, and those PACs/leagues can turn around and support or oppose any candidate or issue. The only "rule" is that the PACs can't "coordinate" with candidates' campaigns. Yeah, whatever.

Still, it's important for an informed voter to know who's funding the campaigns for the candidates. Here are several fantastic websites to help people do just that:

  • This site is a gold mine of info of candidates for federal office, and it's easy to use. You can search for campaign-contribution info on any candidate. Under the "Politicians and Elections" section, you can click "Get Local," input your zip code, and get a wealth of data--on both who's giving, and who's receiving. Input Indio's 92203, for example, and you can see that through Oct. 21, $45,601 had been donated from the zip code. Further link-clicking can get you more info. For example: Did you know that CKE Restaurants--the folks who own Carl's Jr.--are the biggest contributor to Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack's campaign, to the tune of $16k? And who's the biggest donator to her Democratic opponent, Raul Ruiz? Why, it's Emergency Medical Physicians ($20,250).
  • On a state level, this is a fine source ... that is, it's a fine source if/when the site is updated. Right now, the site only includes contributions through May 19, and it does not reflect the redistricting that was completed this year. Still, there's some interesting data to be had. We can learn, for example, that Republican State Sen. Bill Emmerson's top contributing interest group is public sector unions; they've given him more than $70,000. On the not-so-good side, tobacco companies have donated $21,475. Eek.
  • The Federal Election Commission. For federal races, sometimes, it's best to go straight to the source. The site's clunky, but it's updated quickly, and that's a good thing.

There are a variety of other sources out there, too, but these three offer a great start.