We are very excited to see a grant from Sunlight Network, our sister 501(c) (4) organization, begin to pay off so quickly. Aaron Swartz announced today the launch of watchdog.net via a post on his blog. His overall goal is to make it as interesting and easy as possible to pull people into politics. He's starting with:
Pull[ing] in data sources from all over -- district demographics, votes, lobbying records, campaign finance reports, etc. -- and let people explore them in one elegant, unified interface. I want this to be one of the most powerful, compelling interfaces for exploring a large data set out there.
But just giving people information isn't enough; unless you give them an opportunity to do something about it, it will just make them more apathetic. So the second part of the site is building tools to let people take action: write or call your representative, send a note to local papers, post a story about something interesting you've found, generate a scorecard for the next election.
And tying these two pieces together will be a collaborative database of political causes. So on the page about global warming, you'll be able to learn more about the problem and proposed solutions, research the donors and votes on the issue, and see or start a letter-writing campaign.
He's developing the site live, and he's looking for help in putting it all together. We hope you'll give it to him.Continue reading
Take action before the committee mark-up of the Senate electronic filing bill tomorrow by asking your Senators to support a clean bill. The Sunlight Network has a petition (click here for petition) ready for you to sign and send to your Senators asking them to support S. 223 with no additional amendments added. Currently the Senate files their campaign contribution reports on paper, costing an extra $250,000 and delaying the public availability of campaign contributors until after an election. This bill would solve those two problems by requiring Senators to file these reports electronically. Please go take action to help move the Senate into the 21st Century. If you are from Hawaii, New York, or Connecticut your letters are incredibly important at this moment.Continue reading
The Sunlight Network is launching a Congress In 30 Seconds video contest as part of our Punch Clock Campaign. Check out the really neat web tool we've designed and play around with it. It's unbelievably easy to get the hang of how to do it. It will only take a few minutes to make a video on the theme of what you imagine lawmakers do all day.
We know you've always wanted to talk back to Congress. Now here's your chance to tell them what you really think. And in case you need an enticement, the winner -- picked by their peers -- of this 4 week campaign will win $5,000.Continue reading
The Sunlight Network -- our sister 501 c 4 organization -- was launched yesterday with great fanfare. You should check some of the initial ways we hope to create a network of citizens who are engaging in accountability work. There's a pretty neat new project you can find there that you can work on immediately. We also launched a social networking site for Sunlighters -- the commmunity of folks who want to work with us on a regular basis. The primary purpose of that site is to provide a useful forum for distributed research and activism -- to figure out together the kinds of things it makes sense to work on jointly. It enables individuals to connect one on one, as groups, and work collectively on projects. Think of it as MySpace for people who want to demand more transparency from lawmakers.Continue reading