Weekly Media Roundup – May 15, 2009

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Here are a few of the more interesting media mentions of Sunlight and our friends and grantees from this week:

Saturday evening, Ellen Miller, Sunlight’s executive director, appeared on CNN talking about Recovery.gov. She made the point that Recovery.gov needs to be updated in real time so people can keep government accountable as it happens, instead of after the fact. Below is the video of the segment:

The New York Times published an editorial calling for Congress to provide Congressional Research Service reports online for all Americans to access free. The Times ran the editorial a week after Ellen met with an editorial writer at the paper. Last week, The Times published an article about the campaign being waged by Open CRS, a project of the Center for Democracy and Technology, OpenTheGovernment.org and Sunlight to get Congress to agree to release all CRS reports to the public.

Cyrus Sanati wrote a post on The Time’s “DealBook” blog that highlighted and linked to SubsidyScope’s county-by-county analysis of how the government is distributing Troubled Asset Relief Program funds throughout the country. The Atlantic’s Chris Good, on their “Politics” blog, also wrote about and linked to SubsidyScope’s map.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian’s “Politics” blog wrote about Sunlight grantee MAPLight.org launching their Los Angeles site,  where they reveal campaign contributions to Los Angeles City politicians. MAPLight.org’s new site shows how much interest groups like real estate developers, teachers unions and others contribute to city officials and to candidates running for city office. The site is the first of its kind for any U.S. city.

As always, journalists used Center for Responsive Politics’ data to uncover how Washington works. The Wall Street Journal reports that Lockheed Martin, the country’s largest defense contractor, doubled the amount of money spent on lobbying in first quarter of 2009 as it did during the previous three months ($6.41 million during the first quarter, up 97% from the prior quarter’s $3.26 million), all in an effort to prevent defense spending cuts. The “Environment Blog” at the U.K.’s guardian.co.uk highlight CRP in a post about how to follow the fossil fuel money on Capitol Hill. The New York Times editorialized that “It is time to follow the money — all of it,” in light of CRP’s report that U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania and two subcommittee colleagues, Peter Visclosky of Indiana and James Moran of Virginia, received more than $4 million in campaign contributions from PMA Group clients.

In its June issue, Harper’s Magazine published an article by Nancy Watzman, director of Sunlight’s Party Time project. Nancy breaks down, bit-by-bit, a congressional lawmaker’s fundraising event invitation, revealing to those of us not accustom to writing politicians $2,500 checks what we’re missing. Speaking of Party Time, the Politico’s Chris Frates used data from the project to identify some of the bars and restaurants within easy walking distance of the U.S. Capitol where congressional lawmakers meet with lobbyists and other to raise campaign cash.

Jose Vargas at The Washington Post compiled the second of his monthly report cards where he has a group of five online political observers grade WhiteHouse.gov. Last month’s report card produced an average grade of a C+. In this second round the group gave the administration an average of a solid B, with the individual graders giving a range from C to A-. Ellen and Andrew Rasiej, Sunlight’s senior technology advisor, participate as graders, and both gave WhiteHouse.gov a B-. If they were to grade the site on the basis of transparency alone, they would have given the site a C-, Vargas reported.

Thanks! See you next Friday.

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  • @Dizzy: What makes you think they aren’t already? Public scrutiny and factchecking would be a backstop against insane research. Otherwise, who knows?

  • Dizzyguy

    Hmm…is it really in the interest of the American people to start politicizing crs reports? Because that is exactly what would happen if they went public. It wouldn’t be about providing accurate data – it would be about shaping opinion. No. At some point, information needs to be provided without bias. The NY Times is just too lazy to do their own research, so they want Congress to provide it for them!