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Tag Archive: Legistorm

Database of Foreign Gifts Available

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Legistorm, a Web site dedicated to providing a variety of important information about the US Congress, has launched a new database of all foreign gifts (whether tangible gifts or travel) received by members of Congress and their staff since 1999. The database details each of the 450 gifts members of Congress and their aides reported receiving in the past decade. Senate rules require that senators and their staff must report all gifts over a $100 value threshold, and House members and their aides threshold has been adjusted for inflation and stands at $335.

Gifts from foreign sources were not affected by the reforms pushed through in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. The giving and receiving of gifts is all part of diplomatic protocol, and the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act governs the practice. Congressional travel, including transportation, lodging, food and refreshments, make up the bulk of gifts received.

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Legistorm Launches Blog

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Legistorm, the Web site that shares similar goals to Sunlight, that is to make Congress as transparent as possible, has launched a blog. I'm putting it in my RSS reader and I'd guess most readers of this site will want too also.

On this site you can find information about Congressional staff and lawmaker salaries, travel, personal financial disclosures and more.

Update about  the hysteria on Capitol Hill about posting staffer's financial disclosure forms

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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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Political Web Innovations

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The political Web continues to grow as new databases are established every week regularly using new technologies to present important information. I came across three new Web sites, one government and two from nonprofits, today and figured I'd pass them along. The first is the Government Printing Office's online guide to members of Congress. The GPO's online guide allows users to search members of Congress by a number of categories, including name, hometown, terms served, and more. The database is fairly rudimentary but it does allow someone to do quick searches for members from a particular state or see how many members have served for 5 terms. This is good step for GPO as it shows that they looking towards using the Web to project information; all they need is to add more search categories and more information for the member profiles. More links to more information makes the data more useful.

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