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Tag Archive: distributed research

5,000 earmark requests databased

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Our friends at Washington Watch have had some success in their effort to turn messy, un-formatted member earmark requests into usable, analyzable data:

We've collected more than 5,000 earmarks, input by people across the country who want to get a handle on how members of Congress and senators direct spending to special projects in their districts and states. (You can see how the annual spending process is going in our FY 2010 Spending Tracker, by the way.)

But there's plenty more to do, and the chance to win a Kindle for helping out.

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Washington Watch Releases Earmark Request Entry Form

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For the first time in 2009, members of Congress had to release their earmark requests to the public. As we've documented before, this information is scattered over 535 Web sites in all kinds of different formats. Jim Harper and Washington Watch have now released a tool that allows volunteers to capture that earmark information for posterity, centralize it in a single location, and allow for all kinds of additional analysis and investigation. And, if you participate, you can win a Kindle!

Find out more here.

The more members we get entered, the more meaningful research we can do about ...

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Cities seeking a Piece of the Action?

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From the A Piece of the Action? database, here's a list of cities that have hired lobbyists who have reported that the bailout or the stimulus is a specific lobbying issue, complete with links (if any) to project requests on the excellent StimulusWatch.org page for those cities:

Tacoma, WA

Birmingham, MI

Tracy, CA

Hartford, CT

Everett, WA

Jasper, AL

Thomasville, AL

Center Point, AL

Jackson, AL

Atmore, AL

Henderson, NV

Huntsville, AL

Sumter, SC

Arlington, TX

Austin, TX

Dallas, TX

Denton, TX

Phoenix, AZ

Bellevue, WA

Portland, OR

Las Vegas, NV

Whittier, CA

Boise, ID

Auburn, AL

Brewton ...

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Who’s seeking A Piece of the Action?

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The bailout (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, etc.) and the stimulus (the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act) are massive pieces of legislation with lots of moving parts. Thus, the more eyeballs on them and what's around them, the better.

A Piece of the Action? tracks one aspect of the unfolding age of bailing and stimulating -- interests hiring Washington lobbyists to at the very least monitor and likely to try to influence how the government spends its money.

As noted immediately below, this database is an imperfect resource. But it's what we can do ...

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Lobbying for a Piece of the Bailout and Stimulus Action?

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First a word of caution: when the title of a database ends with a question mark (in this case, A Piece of the Action?, approach it with some caution.

I've tried to put together a tool for tracking the lobbying surrounding the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, and whatever other bailouts and stimuli Congress enacts (TARP II? Son of Stimulus?) over the next few months. Using very imperfect records from two online congressional disclosure systems that track the same information in different ways (the classic square filters, round holes government problem), I've pieced together ...

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Genealogy of the Stimulus Bill

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The current economic crisis does seem to present a combination of circumstances (the housing crisis, a credit crisis, declining international trade, rising unemployment), some of which are causes, some of which are symptoms, none of which--of course--are particularly pleasant for those going through them. So how does Congress, legislatively, address new circumstances? Do members and their staffs (and the lobbyists whispering in their ears) craft bills to solve the problems at hand? Or do they go through their archives and relabel old bills as solutions to new problems?

Using the indispensable Govtrack.us, I'm going to look for antecedents ...

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NY Times: Clinton Foundation Donor got help from Hillary

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Digging down deep into the list of Clinton Foundation donors, the New York Times finds that a donor had gotten considerable help from Sen. Hillary Clinton:

An upstate New York developer donated $100,000 to former President Bill Clinton's foundation in November 2004, around the same time that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton helped secure millions of dollars in federal assistance for the businessman's mall project.

Mrs. Clinton helped enact legislation allowing the developer, Robert J. Congel, to use tax-exempt bonds to help finance the construction of the Destiny USA entertainment and shopping complex, an expansion of the Carousel ...

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Clinton Foundation releases donor list;

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...and, thanks to my Sunlight colleague Larry Makinson and DabbleDB.com, we've got it available in a database format. The source material is here, but I couldn't get into the first page (glad that Larry could).

It would be interesting to see what issues the donors are interested in, where they come from, what their own economic interests are, and whether these could potentially create conflicts of interest for Sen. Hillary Clinton, our next Secretary of State.

Contributors to the foundation include governments of Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Jamaica, Oman and Brunei have contributed, as have government ...

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