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The Sunlight Foundation's policy team is helping to create a more open, transparent government.

Our policy work joins issue expertise with an open, innovative approach to advocacy, bringing technology to analysis and lobbying, and adding substantive detail to our vision for digitally empowered governance and citizenship.

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Real-Time Disclosure - One Simple Fix for a More Informed Public

In anticipation of an upcoming decision by the Supreme Court in McCutcheon v. FEC, Congress should enact legislation to mandate near real-time disclosure of hard money contributions to parties and candidates, so that citizens can better gauge whether their elected officials are representing their interests or special moneyed interests. Transparency’s impact is diminished when information about campaign funding is delayed by weeks or months. A less informed public and less accountable system may be the goal of opponents of more disclosure, but it is unacceptable in the Internet era where information about everything other than government is publicly available everywhere, with the tap of a screen or click on a mouse. Congress should enact legislation that increases disclosure to inform the electorate, deter corruption and the appearance of corruption, and aid enforcement. Legislation should also extend the 48-hour notification period, guaranteeing that significant donations are recorded in near real-time. Campaign finance disclosure laws, which have been around for 100 years, require periodic updates to reflect changes that take place in campaigning, fundraising and technology. We are at a period of the perpetual campaign, where fundraising is focused a tiny, super-wealthy portion of the electorate and in which technology allows us to have information available in real-time. Our disclosure laws must reflect modern realities if they are to adequately serve voters’ right to information about who is paying for our elections. Disclosure of large contributions online, in real time, is a necessary, obvious and simple update. As Mitch McConnell, no friend to campaign finance laws, once noted, "We need to have real disclosure... why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?" It’s time for a lot of disclosure.

Recent Policy Documents

  • Public Testimony Submitted to the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee

    Policy Counsel Daniel Schuman submitted comments to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch on budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2014.

    He outlined a number of areas for the committee to consider, urging them to improve public access to legislative data, fully fund the Office of Congressional Ethics, publish Congressional Research Service reports publicly online, publish House Expenditure Reports online in a data-friendly format, publish House support office and support agency reports online, publish the Constitution Annotated online, restore funding for committee and personal office staff and legislative support agencies, and more.

  • Daniel Schuman Testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

    On March 13, 2013 Daniel Schuman testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He outlined the state of transparency in the Federal government and legislature and identified specific actions that could lead to greater openness.

    He urged Congress to pass several important pieces of legislation including the DATA Act, the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act, and amendments to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. He also suggested that the committee should explore legislation relating to FOIA, the Open Government Directive, access to Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinions, and more.

View all policy documents