"All politics is local" goes the old saw, and the more time I've spent looking into members of Congress, the more I become persuaded that it's mostly true, just as it's also true that most political corruption is local as well. House members attend to their districts, Senators to their states, and they know the local movers and shakers quite well, and are more than willing to use their offices to keep those folks happy, even if their interests aren't in the best interests of the country. Those local relationships and the local issues they create are probably best understood by--well, locals.Continue reading
Mrs. Panstreppon, the nom de blog of one of the deepest diggers among citizen journalists, once again demonstrates how much can be done with a little curiosity, a little perserverance and a modem. This time she traces some of the intricacies surrounding the ongoing investigation of Rep. Curt Weldon, one of the inbumbents who won't be returning to office in 2007. Mrs. Panstreppon dug out information from Weldon's personal financial disclosure, from non-profit tax returns, corporate records of businesses, real estate records and other sources to trace the connections between Weldon, his daughter and the various entities that employed her as a lobbyist.Continue reading
This article in the Washington Post is the political class' (e.g. media, politicians, consultants, pollsters') lament that they've lost control of their candidate's message. But in fact it should be a celebratory piece about the fact that citizens are increasingly using the democratizing world of technology to spread the message about what candidates say and really think. Wouldn't you rather rely on YouTube clips, excerpts from speeches, and candid moments filtered by citizen journalists than political advertisements to tell you what a candidate really believes? No contest in my mind.Continue reading
Why should investigative reporters have all the fun?
Sunlight today is unveiling a new website – Watchdogging 101. It’s a collection of more than 20 illustrated tutorials that give step-by-step instructions on where and how to dig out information on the web about money and influence in national politics.
It’s all presented in a Q&A format and the questions run the gamut from the most basic – Who’s my Congressman? – to more complicated issues like tracking industry giving and finding out who’s lobbying for whom.Continue reading
Election season is offering all kinds of ways of citizens to put on their reporting hats and take to the streets. One of the neatest ideas I've run across is VideoTheVote which is asking us to record what is happening at the polls on election day. They will post the videos online and spread the word through the blogosphere.
As we say, "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants..."Continue reading
Our Advisory Board member, Craig Newmark just told me that BBC Radio is looking for five citizen journalists to help tell the election night story from around the country. Here's an incredible opportunity!
BBC Radio Five Live's late night international news programme Up All Night would like your help telling the story of the US midterm elections. We'll be visiting Connecticut and Pennsylvania and on election night Washington DC - but we can't be everywhere and there many other fascinating races we'd like to cover. So we'd like your help in reporting the election.Continue reading
While we're wrapping up the last loose ends of the first part of our Is Congress a Family Business? investigation, I'd like to share a few suggestions for what we do next, solicit as many suggestions as possible for alternatives, and get people thinking about how we could better design the tools for going forward. A few notes: I'd like to continue looking at family members of members of Congress, and I'd like to do so systematically--that is, focusing on Congress as an institution rather than digging into just one or two members. Here we list 19 members of the House who pay their spouses salaries and wages directly from their campaign treasuries, adding money donated to their campaigns to their family budgets. There are also members with close relatives that are registered to lobby Congress (here's a partial list compiled by the Associated Press) or who represent foreign interests. I would like us to develop as comprehensive an index as possible on family members of Congress who are in the business of electioneering or influence.Continue reading