The Center for Responsive Politics is celebrating its 25th birthday today. As its Executive Director for its first decade and a half, I couldn’t be more proud of its breathtaking accomplishments over the years.
As a birthday present for all of us, their Web site — OpenSecrets.org — has undergone a dramatic transformation.
I’ve been playing around on the site for a few days and there are some fabulous improvements. According to CRP, here are some of the new features:
- The money-and-politics articles that we’ve published for years on CapitalEye.org are now front-and-center on OpenSecrets.org as part of our new blog. We’ll continue to produce in-depth reports using our data, but we’ll also be posting "quick hits" most every day in the blog. If you’re an RSS user, make sure you sign up for our blog’s feed.
- We’ve reorganized the site. You’ll still navigate OpenSecrets.org using file tabs that run across the top of the page (along with more tabs on the interior pages, and options in the left navigation bars), but we’ve changed the site’s main "buckets" to better accommodate the variety of data we track now.
- OpenSecrets.org is not just a campaign finance site, you know; in recent years we’ve expanded to also track federal lobbying, Washington’s "revolving door," privately sponsored congressional travel and the personal finances of Congress, the president and top executive branch officials. OpenSecrets.org’s old "Who Gives"/"Who Gets" tabs just didn’t suit everything we do today. On the new site you’ll find our data options split between "Politicians & Elections" and "Influence & Lobbying." It’ll take some getting used to, even for us, but it makes much more sense given all that CRP does now.
- Quick Links on the home page are a fast way to access popular information. The rotating feature panels also highlight what’s new and newsy.
- The site-wide search has been vastly improved, allowing you to scan our multiple databases for information on certain politicians, prominent individuals (such as campaign donors), company or organization names, industries, keywords and ZIP codes. You’ll find this search on the right side of the home page, in the large gray box, or across the top of every interior page. In many sections, there’s a section-specific search on the right side, in a smaller gray box.
- Now you can "watchdog what you want" by setting up a free MyOpenSecrets account. This customizable feature lets you keep an eye on your choice of election races, politicians, industries, PACs or 527 groups — right on your OpenSecrets.org home page. This should be a huge help if you regularly visit the site to look for the same information. Let us know if you have suggestions for improvements here and elsewhere on the site.
- Widgets. We offer them in our new Action Center in a variety of colors, styles and data. Slap these virtual stickers onto your blog or website and we’ll deliver continually updated money-and-politics data on elections and industry influence directly to you.
- You’ll also find many other ways to share the "open secrets" you uncover. Nearly every page of the site has ways to e-mail the information to others or incorporate it into a variety of social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, Digg and Reddit. Don’t keep it all to yourself! Share!
Congrats to my colleagues and friends. Sunlight has provided major support for the expansion of the Center’s databases.