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Tools and Projects

You should be able to get the information about government that you want and maybe even discover something unexpected. Check out Sunlight's noteworthy work in the areas of: Track Influence, The Inner Workings of Congress, Track Legislation and Public Policy and Mobile Apps.

Track Influence

  • Churnalism US icon

    Churnalism US is a web tool and browser extension to let you know when news articles may have similarities with press releases and other sources.

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  • Political Ad Sleuth icon

    Political Ad Sleuth is an opportunity for local volunteers to help us make a national, online database of TV stations’ public ad files. This paperwork, which every broadcaster keeps but doesn’t post online, contains important information about who is buying airtime for political ads.

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  • Follow the Unlimited Money icon

    Follow the Unlimited Money, a product of the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, is a searchable database tracking organizations that are paying for ads and other forms of political communication. This project is now integrated into Influence Explorer.

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  • Foreign Lobbying Influence Tracker icon

    Foreign Lobbying Influence Tracker digitizes information that representatives of foreign governments, political parties and government-controlled entities must disclose to the U.S. Justice Department when they seek to influence U.S. policy.

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  • Influence Explorer icon

    Influence Explorer connects the dots of political contributions on the federal and state level allowing you to track influence by lawmaker, company or prominent individual.

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  • Lobbyist Registration Tracker icon

    Lobbyist Registration Tracker is a database which allows users to see lobbying registrations as they're submitted and the trends in issues and registrations over time.

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  • Party Time icon

    Party Time documents the political fundraising circuit. From the early morning hours until late at night, there are opportunities for members of Congress, presidential and congressional candidates to meet with supporters behind closed doors, press them for money, and party. Breakfasts, luncheons, barbecues, golfing outings, receptions, concerts, basketball, baseball, football—the social whirl is endless.

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  • Poligraft icon

    Poligraft is a website and utility that allows anyone to uncover levels of influence in federal and state-level politics and the news coverage of it. Using data from Sunlight’s Influence Explorer, Poligraft allows you to connect the dots between money and politics in Congress. Simply paste the URL or text of a news article, blog post or press release and Poligraft will create an enhanced view of the people, organizations and relationships described within it.

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The Inner Workings of Congress

  • Call on Congress icon

    Call on Congress is a free telephone service that helps people learn more about how their representatives in Congress are voting on bills, raising campaign money and also provides them with information on where to vote. Dial 1-888-907-6886 to try it for yourself. Available in English and Spanish.

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  • Politwoops icon

    Politwoops is the only comprehensive collection of deleted tweets by U.S. politicians. From minor messaging changes to major gaffes, Politwoops offers a window into what they hoped you didn't see.

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  • Scout icon

    Scout is a rapid notification service allows anyone to create customized email or text alerts on actions Congress takes on an issue or a specific bill. It also makes it easy to search federal regulations and track bills in all 50 states (a first). The website tracks a variety of sources including the Congressional Record, THOMAS, the Federal Register and Sunlight’s Open States to create legislative news searches about issues a person, company or nonprofit cares about.

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  • Capitol Words icon

    Capitol Words explores the most popular words and phrases used by legislators in the U.S. Congress. Search the data from 1996 to today by state, date or politician.

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  • House Expenditure Database icon

    House Expenditure Database On November 30, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives released the quarterly Statement of Disbursements online for the first time. Since the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer posted these in PDF format, Sunlight created a searchable database of each House member's expenditures. This database contains information that is a subset of the information provided in the PDFs.

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  • House Staff Directory icon

    The House Staff Directory empowers the public to better communicate with their elected representatives by making available staff names and (public) phone numbers and addresses. In addition to legislative offices, the directory also includes staffers from offices that support House activities. It is no secret that congressional staff are the lifeblood of Congress, but identifying the best staffer to speak with about a particular issue is a daunting challenge.

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  • OpenCongress icon

    OpenCongress is a free, nonpartisan source for legislative information that lets anyone track bills, lawmakers and the issues they care about.

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Track Legislation and Public Policy

  • Docket Wrench icon

    Docket Wrench enables investigations into the rulemaking process of federal agencies with tracking of similar public comments and entity matching for a complete picture of their influence across millions of documents.

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  • Open States icon

    Open States allows anyone to discover more about lawmaking in their state. With Open States, you can track state bills, get campaign and contact information for legislators and follow all the action across 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

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  • Scout icon

    Scout is a rapid notification service allows anyone to create customized email or text alerts on actions Congress takes on an issue or a specific bill. It also makes it easy to search federal regulations and track bills in all 50 states (a first). The website tracks a variety of sources including the Congressional Record, THOMAS, the Federal Register and Sunlight’s Open States to create legislative news searches about issues a person, company or nonprofit cares about.

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  • Clearspending icon

    Clearspending is a scorecard that analyzes how well U.S. government agencies are reporting their spending data on USASpending.gov. Clearspending is the most thorough analysis of this federal grant and loan data ever conducted.

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  • OpenCongress icon

    OpenCongress is a free, nonpartisan source for legislative information that lets anyone track bills, lawmakers and the issues they care about.

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  • OpeningParliament.org icon

    OpeningParliament is a global initiative bringing together more than 80 international organizations to develop best practices on how the world's legislatures should be transparent and accountable. Led in part by the Sunlight Foundation, the National Democratic Institute and the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency, OpeningParliament is also the home of the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness, a set of shared principles developed by the emerging parliamentary monitoring community.

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  • PublicMarkup icon

    PublicMarkup lets you review and comment on proposed bills before they're introduced—or while they're pending—in Congress.

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  • Roku Open Government Apps icon

    Roku Open Government Apps stream audio-visual content from the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court to any Roku player. The White House app offers high quality, live and archived video from WhiteHouse.gov, the Congress app streams video from the U.S. House of Representatives floor and the Supreme Court app is an audio archive of arguments and opinions issued and read by justices browseable by year.

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  • Sunlight Academy icon

    Sunlight Academy is an interactive training portal that aims to provide instructional and education resources to make government more transparency and accountable. The different training modules cover a range of topics from basic research skills to comprehensive issue specific tools and resources.

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Mobile Apps

  • Congress icon

    Congress for iOS and Android is the fastest free way to access information about Congress from your phone. Learn more about who represents you, contact their offices, follow bills, explore votes and more.

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  • Sitegeist icon

    Sitegeist is an Android and iPhone app that helps you learn more about your surroundings. Drawing on publicly available information, the app presents solid data such as average age, record temperatures and how people commute in a simple at-a-glance format to help you tap into the pulse of your location. It is part of Sunlight’s National Data Apps, developed with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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  • Ad Hawk icon

    Ad Hawk is a free mobile and web app that identifies information about who is buying political ads using audio fingerprint technology. The app provides valuable contextual information about the candidate, super PAC and issues ads airing on TV and radio this election year.

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  • Congress for Windows Phone 7 icon

    Congress for Windows Phone 7 is the fast and free way to access real-time information about Congress on your Windows phone.

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  • Open States for iOS icon

    Open States for iPhone and iPad provides up-to-date information on what's happening in your state legislature, from bills being considered and how to contact lawmakers, campaign finance and voting records, plus local news.

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  • Upwardly Mobile icon

    Upwardly Mobile is a webapp that helps you find a better place to live by comparing factors of salary, living and employment data and ranking it based on your preferences. It is part of Sunlight’s National Data Apps, developed with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Retired Projects

  • Checking Influence icon

    Checking Influence shows you how companies you do business with every day are wielding political influence. By securely analyzing your online bank or credit card statement, Checking Influence shows your spending alongside corporate spending on lobbying activities and campaign contributions, helping you to be a more informed consumer and citizen.

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  • Inbox Influence icon

    Inbox Influence allows you to see the political contributions of the people and organizations that are mentioned in emails you receive. This easy-to-use tool can be used for researching influence background on corporate correspondence, adding context to emailed articles or discovering who is behind political fundraising solicitations.

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  • Operation Transbearency icon

    Operation Transbearency is no accident. It’s a movement when the folks at Sunlight heard that the infamous faux-pundit Stephen Colbert decided to take his message of Politics As Usual to Washington, DC on October 30th. His mission? A march to Keep Fear Alive. Rather than feed into his fear-mongering, Sunlight decided it was time to stand up to Colbert by hitting him where it hurts: his fear of bears.

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  • Politiwidgets icon

    Politiwidgets makes inserting information on a Member of Congress into a blog post as easy as embedding a YouTube video. We have 10 free widgets can help you display lawmakers' top campaign contributors, earmarks they have requested, their voting record on any current bill, where their fundraisers are, along with many others.

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  • Read the Bill icon

    Read the Bill is a platform for strengthening our democracy by ensuring elected officials and citizens have the chance to read and understand legislation.

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  • Real Time Congress icon

    Real Time Congress is the fast and free way to access real-time information about Congress on your iPhone.

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  • Stream Congress icon

    Stream Congress is a comprehensive web app that compiles, in real time, all Tweets, YouTube videos and floor updates from members of Congress into a single customizable information newsfeed.

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  • Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor icon

    Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor allows anyone to report information on the political advertising they see on TV, hear on the radio or view online.

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  • Sunlight Health icon

    Sunlight Health for Android and iPhone brings health data to consumers’ pockets. The app helps medical patients and their families make informed decisions about healthcare services and prescription drug options. It is part of Sunlight’s National Data Apps, developed with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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  • Sunlight Live icon

    Sunlight Live, winner of the 2010 Knight-Batten Grand Prize, is Sunlight's interactive, real-time investigative reporting platform. During major congressional hearings and news events, we stream live coverage combined with relevant transparency data about the influences on elected officials, while engaging an online audience.

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  • Transparency Corps icon

    Transparency Corps allows anyone anywhere to have a positive impact on making our government more transparent by aggregating small actions that require human intelligence but not specialized political knowledge.

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