Real Money. Real Influence.


Public Citizen released a new report yesterday with some breathtaking figures in about lobbyist campaign contributions.

Major findings include that lobbyists and their political action committees have given over $100 million in campaign contributions to members of Congress since 1998 and that the top 6 percent of lobbyists — those giving a total of at least $10,000 each over eight years — gave 83 percent of all the money. Nearly three-quarters of all registered lobbyists had given no campaign money above the limit of $200. Many of the top recipients of  the money are on the appropriations committees. Thirty-six members of Congress have received a half-million dollars or more from lobbyists and their PACs since 1998. Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) have each received more than $1 million. Of the 36 members in the half-million dollar club, 21 are Republicans and 15 are Democrats.

But they sure miss the boat when it comes to presentation. All I can find on their site is a PDF of the report but like most researchers I want to dig directly into the database but it’s not online! That means that their findings are really limited in their usefulness and audience. More importantly, it means that the shelf life of their terrific effort to compile the data is going to be really limited. This is a passive push-out of information at a time when you want to pull-in your readers and activists.

Why not use some Web 2.0 techniques to publish this report? if you did, the information becomes part of the greater body of knowledge about Congress and the role of lobbying and lobbyists so that other researchers and citizen journalists can build on it to make an ever clearer picture of what’s really going on in Congress. In the absence of that, we hope someone will take the time to add the relevant information to the Congresspedia.