Recent Sunlight Foundation Press Releases
June 18, 2013 —
WASHINGTON, DC — The Sunlight Foundation is the recipient of a new $4 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant will further Sunlight’s ongoing work in bringing technology-driven transparency and accountability to government and will allow the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit to serve as a cornerstone in the Knight Foundation’s open government grant making.
Over the next three years, Sunlight will use the Knight Foundation support to make more government data accessible, build tools to bring that data to the public and share with the growing open government community lessons learned from our work. These funds are the second-largest foundation grant received by Sunlight since its founding in 2006.
May 9, 2013 —
The Sunlight Foundation issued the following statement regarding the White House’s Executive Order and the new Open Data Policy for federal agencies.
May 6, 2013 —
WASHINGTON, DC — The Sunlight Foundation is expanding its free data services with a new website -- http://sunlightfoundation.com/api/ -- to access our open government APIs. We offer APIs (a.k.a. application programming interfaces) for a number of our projects and tools and support a community of developers who create their own projects using this data.
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Sunlight Foundation in the News
The Spokesman-Review (Wash.) —
It’s a different story for campaign contributions, which can be quickly accessed on the PDC’s website. In fact, Washington government has repeatedly gotten high grades for putting information online that is in depth and user-friendly. But a recent AP and public radio investigation revealed that lobbyist reporting needs to be brought into the 21st century.
New York Times —
Unlike registered lobbyists, these intelligence tipsters are not required to report their clients and fees to the government, even though they sell the information to Wall Street traders and hedge funders who pay handsomely for an inside edge. Some are registered lobbyists who disclose their advocacy activity, while pocketing useful information as a separate, unreported endeavor. Beyond making Congressional rounds, The Washington Post reported, they have set up meetings for Wall Street investors in the health care industry to visit White House staffers in search of information. Nothing illegal here, but these specialists should have to register like lobbyists so the public could at least find out who is accorded an inside track.
At the same time, Congressional proponents are reviving a measure that almost made it into law last year: a requirement that political intelligence operatives register and publicly disclose their dealings. The measure was deleted by the Republican House from a new law that bans Congressional lawmakers and staffers from profiting from nonpublic information and requires monthly disclosure of their market transactions.
In reviving the measure, Representative Louise Slaughter, Democrat of New York, said the Medicare dealings, reportedly spurred via a Capitol Hill leak, was an insult to Congress. “We do not exist to affect the markets,” she told the newspaper Roll Call. Surely, responsible colleagues in both houses should agree, in their own self-interest, and force disclosure by the information parasites living off Congress.
LA Daily News —
Good for California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who reversed her previous position and agreed to make the state's database of lobbying and campaign finance available to the public daily online.
It's a big step in transparency for who's spending how much to pass what, or to elect or influence whom - which Californians need to inform their voting choices.
She then announced that, beginning by Labor Day, her office will upload twice a day an updated copy of the Cal-Access database of spending on lobbying and campaigns, so that the data can be downloaded as a single file by members of the public and the media.
Among groups that signed the initial request, besides Maplight and Common Cause, were the California Newspaper Publisher's Association, the Sunlight Foundation and California Forward.
The Washington Post —
Meanwhile, the political process is sliding backward toward the practices of the years before the Watergate reforms. More than $300 million in secret contributions were spent by outside groups in the 2012 presidential and congressional races. In the last cycle, a large share of the hidden cash was channeled through 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations. And here’s a key fact that often gets overlooked: Under the rules, these organizations have to disclose their donors to the IRS. Only the public remains in the dark.
Secrecy denies vital information to voters about who is contributing to which candidates. Very often, these contributions are made in search of influence on policy. We think openness here is a more valuable public good than is providing a cloak for every fat cat who wants to remain hidden.
An attempt toward more transparency was made in the last Congress with the Disclose Act, but the measure was blocked by Republicans. Now Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has joined with a Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to offer a fresh attempt at a bipartisan bill, the Follow the Money Act, which, they declared, will cover “the full universe of independent political spenders.” One welcome idea in the bill is real-time electronic reporting and disclosure of contributions. It is not clear whether the mechanism of the bill would deliver the worthy goal of universal coverage, but there is time to hammer out details. It’s significant that Ms. Murkowski has become the first Republican in a while to sign up for a campaign disclosure bill, and we hope she can persuade others to join her.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel —
There are about four times as many lobbyists in Nashville as state legislators, and the amount spent on influencing the votes of lawmakers is almost twice the amount spent on the General Assembly’s operating budget — $67 million to $38 million, respectively.
It is too easy sometimes to decry the money spent on lobbying efforts or to complain about the 525 lobbyists seemingly taking over the capital during the legislative session. However, almost everyone, including watchdog groups, accept the fact that money is part of doing business in government. This makes it all the more incumbent on the public to be vigilant.
Continuous, ongoing disclosure will help voters understand where the message is coming from and who is paying for it. Plugging loopholes in laws affecting lobbying also should be an ongoing legislative responsibility.
All press mentions