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Tag Archive: Insanely Useful Websites

LegiStorm Posts Staffer Personal Financial Disclosures

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LegiStorm - an insanely useful site of congressional information including staffer salaries and other disclosures - has, for the first time, posted PDFs of the personal financial disclosures that some staffers are required to file. For every member of Congress, at least one staffer must file a personal financial disclosure. If a staffer is making the maximum pay, as some chiefs of staff do, they must file a disclosure. Staffers hold a lot of power on Capitol Hill and are often overlooked as recipients of undue influence from outside groups. LegiStorm notes this in their press release:

Most disclosures are relatively mundane and appear to demonstrate those staffers have no discernible potential conflicts of interest, Friedly said. However, hundreds of staffer disclosures reveal ties to interest groups and lobbying firms, either as a past job, a spouse's work or a future employment agreement. Others reveal lucrative side jobs, adding as much as $100,000 or more to their federal pay.

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And the Insanely Useful Web Sites Predict the Winner of the GOP Senate Leadership Scramble to be…

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Following up on Paul's insanely useful look at Sen. Jon Kyl, who will replace departing Sen. Trent Lott as minority whip, here's a slightly different look at those jockeying to move on up in the leadership and take over Kyl's old job as Republican conference chairman (I'm using the Washington Post's list of likely contenders). If Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison rises in the hierarchy, 20 former staffers of hers who are now lobbyists can say they once worked for the person responsible for the Senate GOP's message operations (compared to three for Sen. Richard Burr and none for Sen. Lamar Alexander -- so far at least). Hutchison has the most robust leadership PAC, called KPAC; in 2007, it has raised $632,952, of which $549,250 has been contributed by individuals, with the balance coming from other PACs. Burr has raised $215,500 -- most of which comes from other PACs, according to the latest FEC filing. Just $15,000 of the donations to the Next Century Fund came from individuals. Alexander's leadership PAC, the Tenn PAC, has raised $15,000 so far in 2007. If you're just following the money, you might infer that more people with more at stake on Capitol Hill have a vested interest in Hutchison moving up as opposed to Burr or Alexander. That holds for earmark recipients as well (see below the fold for more...)

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Insanely Useful Look at Sen. Jon Kyl

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Sen. Trent Lott's reform induced decision to forgo further representation for the people of Mississippi is creating a hole in the Senate Republican leadership team as Lott is the Minority Whip. Lott's resignation has already caused Republican Conference Chair Jon Kyl to announce his ambitions to be the next Minority Whip and Sen. Lamar Alexander, who lost by one vote to Lott for the position, is also expected to toss his plaid shirt into the race. Seeing as how we have a whole host of resources, many of them Insanely Useful, it seems appropriate to see what these resources have to say about these characters. Let's start with a cursory look at Sen. Jon Kyl.

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Insanely Useful Sites: GovTrack.us

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GovTrack.us is a perfect choice to be our first review as an Insanely Useful Website. GovTrack is one of the original web 2.0 type sources for government information: both an excellent example of a new model of political information distribution, and a compelling story of Web-programming genius expressed as an ambitious civic undertaking.

Josh Tauberer, Govtrack's creator and proprietor, has gone far beyond building a simple tool to help track congressional proceedings; Josh's creation has become a fundamental fixture in terms of both government information and structured data, a result of his extensive knowledge of both advanced linguistics, and computer programming. Josh's willingness to volunteer his expertise also led to him helping to form and author the recommendations of the Open House Project, a separate Sunlight project.

Here's Josh Tauberer briefly telling the story of Govtrack: (click below to play)

http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/files/mp3/govtrack.mp3

GovTrack's user oriented design and creative combinations of different data sources have garnered praise from notable sources, including Peggy Garvin, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and also help make GovTrack useful for a variety of different users.

There's a lot more to this review; click below to keep reading...

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Sunlight Collects Value Added Information Resources

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Where can I find information on the contracts awarded to Northrop Grumman Corporation? Once I’ve found that information, where can I find the campaign finance and lobbying information for Northrop Grumman Corporation? Have members of Congress have accepted private travel from Northrop Grumman Corporation or a related association? Is there a profile of those members of Congress? Can I edit that profile with what I might find? Did that member say anything about Northrop Grumman Corporation in the Congressional Record? Are they mentioned in a committee report? Did they benefit from an earmark?

Web sites presenting different kinds of political, civic, and legislative information are distributed throughout the internet. While broad Web searches can be effective, they can also be time consuming and lead to sites of questionable reliability. With the debut of Sunlight’s Insanely Useful Web sites page (always listed in the tabs at the top of every Sunlight page) we're developing a collection of value-added government information databases on the Web.

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Insanely Useful Websites

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Sunlight is starting to update and clean up (and eventually redesign) our Website and today we are posting the first installment: Insanely Useful Websites for government transparency. The sites listed here replace and dramatically update our old "resources" section.

How do you warrant a mention here? All these sites provide a broad range of information available to track government and legislative information, campaign contributions and the role of money and power in politics. Many of these resources apply the Web 2.0 ethos to sift, share and combine this information in innovative ways -- often times by mashing data together from disparate sources to maximize the usability of that information.

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