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Tag Archive: ChangeCongress

Remix Change Congress

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Everyone loves Professor Larry Lessig's lectures. He's known for his impressive keynote presentations. (I know that sounds like an oxymoron but trust me in this case it's not). He always leaves the rest of us wondering how we can emulate his delivery skills. And mostly, we can't.

His recent talks about his latest project -- Change Congress -- don't disappoint. And now he's making it all available for remixing. Dig in here.

(Full disclosure: Larry serves on Sunlight's advisory board.)

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Hidden Money + Advocacy = Doubt

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The involvement of several non-profit advocacy groups in the debate over the Air Force's $40 billion air-refueling tanker contract highlights how important transparency is for not just the government, but also for those that ask us to trust their opinions of it. (Quick synopsis of the controversy: Boeing won the contract in 2003, then it was suspended after an Air Force staffer was successfully prosecuted for corruption related to the deal, then Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautic Defence and Space won the contract and now Boeing is contesting that.) One of the groups, Citizens Against Government Waste, has been recruiting others to join their support of the Northop contract, which they see as a better value for taxpayers. An opposing set groups, including Frontiers of Freedom and the Center for Security Policy, are backing Boeing on the grounds of keeping major arms contracts within the U.S. The problem for the Washington Post reporters covering the story was that, after some digging, they found that several of the groups had taken funding from either Boeing or Northop and were collaborating with the companies on their advocacy efforts. The cynicism this practice caused was palpable in the piece:

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Fast Start for Soft Money Groups in 2008 Election

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Forgive me, but I couldn't help but be startled by the above headline of the latest analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute. I mean, the much lauded campaign finance reform effort of a few years ago - the so-called McCain- Feingold bill was supposed to have banned soft money. In fact all the campaign finance reform groups -- I don't think there was a single exception -- made a devil's bargain. In order to get that much praised ban on soft money, the reform groups agreed to double the limits that individuals could give to campaigns. (Someone has yet to explain to me how allowing the less than one-tenth of one percent who give big money to give even more money was a reform.) McCain still carries the mantel of "reformer" because of his championing the legislation

This was a no brainer to predict even then: soft money is back in a big way.

What to do now? See this.

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Mr. Lessig Comes to Washington

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Lawrence Lessig, Stanford University law professor and world-renowned expert in intellectual property, is announcing that he's going to invest a significant amount of his time and energy confronting the pervasive and corruptive influence of money in our democracy. You may have heard of the recent Draft Lessig movement that almost convinced him to run for Congress. He ultimately decided not to make the run, but he's not retreating from the fight.

Today, at a lecture here in Washington, sponsored by Sunlight and Omidyar Network, he's launching the ChangeCongress project where he'll focus his academic interests on the issue of the systemic corruption of American democracy. Lessig will outline his hopes for ChangeCongress and how it will help citizens reclaim their democracy from the culture of corruption.

Lessig will give his lecture at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) today at the National Press Club. We are very proud that Lessig recently joined Sunlight's advisory board, where he's helping us stay on the vanguard of using technology to promote a transparent and open government. If you can't make it to the lecture you can watch the Web cast.

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