The Fundamentals


I’m pretty excited to be joining the team here at Sunlight. I’m the new Lead Organizer for the Public Equals Online campaign, which means that most of the time when you’re hearing from me, I’ll be asking you for something: ideas, feedback, calls to Congress. I’m lucky to be jumping into a community of people that’s already passionate and knowledgeable about transparency and open government; now we just have to channel that passion toward a campaign in order to make actual legislative change. Sunlight launched the Public Equals Online campaign in March, and now it’s time to really get moving.

A question posed on our Citizens for Open Government list today made us pause, though, to reassess where we are before we move on to the next step. We’re going back to basics. To start, we’re taking a look at our goals, and being clear about what it will take to achieve them. Our end goal is an open and transparent government. As our pledge states:

We believe a transparent government is one more deserving of our trust, and is one that allows us the ability to fully participate, collaborate, and hold government accountable as our Founders intended.

Four pieces of recently introduced legislation, the Public Online Information Act, the Transparency in Government Act, the DISCLOSE Act (related to campaign expenditures), and the Earmark Transparency Act would allow us to get further than ever to our goal. On a national level, we’ll be focusing on these, and building a powerful voting bloc that will put pressure on Congress to fight for an open and transparent government. These pieces of legislation would not only better our day to day government workings, but have a decisive impact on some of the most important events of our time. They could help us prevent another coal mine disaster in West Virginia, or help us determine the extent of, and thus recover from, the damage from the BP oil spill.

Government isn’t just federal, however, and so we’ll also work to support and celebrate the local victories that make everything from municipal to state governments more open and transparent, and use these to grow the national movement for transparency.

Over the next few days, we’ll be assessing the resources we’ve got and planning out the summer and fall. That’s where you come in. This list is by no means comprehensive, and we want your ideas, critiques, and overall feedback.

What we’ve got so far:

  • Citizens for Open Government – an incredible resource of people that are passionate about open government to share ideas and communication about the campaign

  • 6,562 people that have signed the Public Equals Online pledge (if you haven’t signed yet, you can at Once you’ve signed, share the pledge with your friends)
  • — with recently launched collaborative new tools for events and project building
  • A full time staff member devoted to supporting the work you’re doing (that’s me)

We’re lucky to have the support of several other groups and are looking forward to reaching out to even more, and in the next few weeks we’ll be working on the best way to structure those partnerships and make sure there’s space for both individual and institutional involvement. If you’ve been involved with another organization that’s doing work with open government or transparency or have ideas for how to partner with an organization like that, that’s great! Please let me know about it – who they are, what they’re doing, how we can work together.

One thing that will not change: the need for your involvement and feedback every step of the way. We cannot win without the dedicated involvement of people all over the country.

You can start helping the campaign right now: go to and let us know your thoughts.