The Supreme Court recently ruled that aggregate contribution limits to political candidates are unconstitutional. Although we are disappointed by this outcome, we will continue to push for real-time transparency of hard money contributions.

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Sunlight is one of the nation's most trusted sources for information and analysis on how we can open up public access to the government online to make it more transparent and accountable. From data and research tools to staff experts and online trainings, we provide an array of resources for journalists and the media. Contact the Communications team (below) for more information.

Recent Sunlight Foundation Press Releases

Sunshine Week Editorial Memo: The Public has Right to Know Who Funds Elections

March 14, 2014 — In the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision that could be announced as soon as the week of March 24, the Supreme Court is expected to strike down the long-standing cap on total contributions individuals may give to federal candidates and political parties, permitting the unseemly spectacle of a single donor contributing more than $3.5 million to one party during an election cycle. This Sunshine Week, as we consider the vital importance of the public’s right to know, Congress should feel pressured to ensure we all have access to who’s funding and influencing our elections.

Sunshine Week Panel: How Journalists Can Unlock Inaccessible Government Data

March 4, 2014 — The Sunlight Foundation, National Press Club, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), OpentheGovernment.org, ProPublica and Reporters Committee for Freedom the Press invite journalists, open government advocates and others interested in government accountability to attend “Partly Cloudy: Why ‘Public Information’ Doesn't Always = Accessible Information,” a Sunshine Week panel that unveils the technical keys to making data truly transparent. Although often with good intentions, the government sometimes hinders access to valuable public information by posting it online in proprietary and other closed formats (such as PDFs) that make analysis problematic. Panelists from Sunlight, USA Today, ProPublica and the Data Transparency Coalition will discuss how digitizing government data does not always improve its accessibility, and will provide insights on how to overcome poor disclosure practices.

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Sunlight Foundation in the News

Editorial: Flunking the open legislature test

The MetroWest Daily News (Mass.) — Through its Open States project, the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for open government, recently put the legislative websites of all 50 states to the test. It evaluated them on completeness, timeliness, ease of access, machine readability, standards and permanence of records, then compiled the scores and gave each state a grade. Massachusetts scored a solid F, with a combined score of –1, the lowest score given.

Editorial: Let the sun shine on political donations

The Asheville Citizen-Times — The other battle over campaign disclosures comes at the federal level. As Lisa Rosenberg of the Sunlight Foundation says in her column on this page, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. It could strike down a longstanding cap on contributions and allow a single donor to contribute more than $3.5 million to one party during an election cycle. Considering the court’s ill-advised Citizens United decision in 2010, which led to $1 billion in contributions from “outside” groups in the 2012 campaign, it’s time for Congress to act. We agree with the Sunlight Foundation’s recommendation that Congress mandate that contributions of more than $1,000 to candidates, committees or political parties be disclosed within 48 hours.

Editorial: Sunshine Week is reminder that government openness is crucial to our freedoms

The Reno Gazette Journal — If the court does toss out the cap, it will become more important than ever that the voters know who is spending large amounts of money to get individual candidates elected. At the same time, donors and PACs are working to allow more secrecy in election spending. The Sunlight Foundation is recommending legislation that would mandate disclosure of all contributions of $1,000 or more to parties, candidates and political committees within 48 hours of receipt. Only if they know who candidates are getting money from can they determine who their elected officials are really representing: the voters who elected them to office or the moneyed interests that paid for their campaigns.

Editorial: 'Honest graft' in Congress only works for crooks and liars

The Washington Examiner — Enthusiasm for old-fashioned dirty politics - including back-room deals, vote-buying with earmarks and log-rolling - is making a comeback. Shocking as that might be for folks who thought the banishment of earmarks a few years ago marked the end of congressional corruption, what is also unexpected is who are the most vocal advocates of the revival. As the Sunlight Foundation's Bill Allison pointed out Friday, the push comes from liberals like the Atlantic's Jonathan Rauch and Slate's Matthew Yglesias.

Editorial: Change the rules on secret money

The New York Times — In November, when the Internal Revenue Service finally stirred itself to propose a modest crackdown on the abuse of the tax code by political groups, it was immediately attacked by tax-exempt nonprofit groups on the right. That wasn’t too surprising; secret donations from conservatives to these groups are the principal reason American politics is now dominated by those with huge bank accounts. But now liberal tax-exempt groups are also raising their voice in protest over the I.R.S.’s plans, afraid that they will be caught in the same crackdown, and will be unable to engage in political activity. The best thing the I.R.S. can do is to ignore both sides and proceed swiftly ahead, making its proposed rules even stronger to squeeze the influence of money out of politics.

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