Sunlight Weekly Round-up: States to be measured for susceptibility to corruption

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When it comes to money in politics, Sunlight’s Poligraft helps you see the relationships between organizations and the people in power through data collected from its sister project: TransparencyData.com. Another notable organization that tracks money in politics is OpenSecrets.org. With a concise mission to inform citizens, empower voters and advocate for a transparent and responsive government, the organization has garnered acknowledgment for their work. Now continuing the transparency movement is a new project that has been created to, as Stacy Donohue, director of investments at Omidyar Network, puts it  “bring attention to the nation’s statehouses”.

  • The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in New Hampshire, has launched a new website for the state’s checkbook. NHOpenGov.org is a free, searchable online database that shows details of the state’s spending. Grant Bosse blogs that the website is funded by private donations with information collected through public records requests from official state sources. Check out how the think tank’s transparency director, Josh Elliott-Traficante, is giving the website a nod of approval on the New Hampshire Watchdog.
  • Providence, Rhode Island has approved a new ordinance that will require anyone lobbying on behalf of a cause or business to identify themselves as such. Also included in the new ordinance is the requirement that lobbyists register with City Hall and file quarterly reports. Richard Dujardin writes that City Council president  Michael Solomon believes that, although other states may have requirements for lobbyists to register, Providence is certainly among the first cities to actually implement the law. See which lobbyists will be exempted from this new ordinance at the Projo 7 to 7 News Blog.
  • Now here is an example of how good sunshine laws can help fight corruption: Samantha Swindler, a former news editor of the Times Tribune in Kentucky, noticed a discrepancy in record-keeping in the Whitley County Sheriff’s office and immediately got on it. When she appealed to the state attorney general for open records on the Sheriff’s office, she discovered that the Sheriff was not only selling guns in his barber shop, but also did not record any of these transactions. Caleb Brown shares more about this citizen investigation into public office misconduct using open records on Blue Grass Policy blog.
  • Tom Jones, the former spokesman and policy-maker for Shelby County in Tennessee, is asking the Shelby County Legislative Delegation to oppose a proposal to close some public records – pushed mainly by companies looking for government incentives. In his post – “a solution in search of a problem” – he explores keeping the balance between special interests and government while doing away with the culture of secrecy that benefits special interests at the expense of the American people. Smart City Memphis blog has details.
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