Among Sen. Christopher Dodd's top career donors are employees, their family members and PACs of the following players in the nation's financial meltdown: Citigroup ("written off and lost $53.6 billion through the credit crunch so far, which is more than any other bank or broker,") Bear Stearns ("Bear Stearns's mortgage business, a big driver of profits, has been eviscerated,"), SAC Capital Partners (vehemently denies charge that they helped bring down Bear Stearns), American International Group (saved by an emergency $85 billion rescue), Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley (each of which are morphing into bank holding companies ...Continue reading
Taxpayers for Commons Sense rolled out a pair of new databases on earmarks of presidential candidates, this time covering Sen. Barack Obama's requests from 2006 to 2008, and his funded earmarks for 2008. The databases are online here.
A list of the earmarks Sen. Joe Biden requested for fiscal year 2009 is available here. Robert Bluey at Red State is calling on Biden to disclose all his earmark requests--can't argue with that. But for those who want to dig around in the press release archives of his site, there are plenty of releases like this one from prior ...Continue reading
In a comment to this post pointing to some resources for getting acquainted with the Republican vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, I noted this Washington Post story on a lawsuit involving Robert Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, James Biden, the Senator's brother, and plaintiff Anthony Lotito, who is the former business partner of the two non-elected Bidens in a deal that didn't work out. Both sides charge one another with cheating; hence the lawsuit. It turns out the New York State Supreme Court (where the case ...Continue reading
Apparently, Republican presidential nominee John McCain has selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate. For those looking for more information, her 2007 state personal financial disclosure form is online here (via the Center for Public Integrity). Via the excellent National Institute on Money in State Politics, here's campaign finance information from her unsuccessful 2002 race for Lieutenant Governor, her 2006 primary campaign for governor, and her 2006 general election campaign for governor. I'll update with more links as I come across them. I'm not going to dig into these myself today, but others should ...Continue reading
Our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense have collected, in one handy spot, all of their Fiscal 2009 earmark data and trenchant analyses of same. So far, the Senate (which has much laxer earmark disclosure rules) has passed more bills than the House -- we saw the same pattern last year as well, though traditionally the House had run ahead of the Senate. All the files are available as downloadable spread sheets.Continue reading
Some 76 members of Congress provide at least some disclosure of their fiscal year 2009 earmark requests online, citizen researchers... View ArticleContinue reading
Thanks to Craig Newmark, we now know where two more former staffers of resigned, retired or defeated members of Congress are now. Wayne Palmer, the former chief of staff to Sen. Rick Santorum, now lobbies for Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, while Tim Berry, the former chief of staff for Rep. Tom DeLay lobbies for Time Warner. We now have four lobbyists verified, only 44 to go!Continue reading
Wow, that was fast. In less than a day, 21 citizen researchers completed the first part of the Where Are They Now?" distributed research project. They investigated 268 congressional staff members whose bosses resigned, retired or were voted out of office in 2006, and found 48 who have potentially gone through the revolving door to work for K Street. Thank you to all who participated--including the 30 researchers who signed up but didn't get a chance to participate in the first part, but remember: There's still more to be done.
So far, only one of these potential revolvers has been verified. Here's your chance to do some old fashioned, person-to-person reporting: Call up a lobbying firm and verify that we have indeed identified a former congressional insider who's moved on to K Street. We give you a really simple script, and an easy way to record your efforts. Just click here to get started.Continue reading
Rep. Mike Oxley, the former chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, retired. So did Sen. Paul Sarbanes, the ranking minority member of the Senate Banking Committee. Rep. Harold Ford lost his bid for an open Senate seat, while Sen. Rick Santorum lost his bid for his own. Criminal investigations cost both Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Rep. Bob Ney their seats.
When they left office, what happened to their former staffers? Did they go through Washington's Revolving Door? Using the Sunlight Foundation's new Where are they now? distributed research tool, you can find out who's gone from Congress to K Street. The 109th Congress closed up shop nearly one year ago. For the top staff members whose bosses resigned, retired or were voted out of office, the one year "cooling off period" -- during which they are not allowed to lobby their former colleagues on Capitol Hill -- is coming to an end. Lower level staffers have been able to lobby their old colleagues on the Hill all year.
Now you can find out what former aides are now lobbying on everything from S-Chip expansion to bridges to nowhere. Where are they now? also extends the distributed research model by allowing users, in addition to doing the preliminary research on potential revolvers, to verify information, resulting in a 100 percent-citizen-powered project. Where are they now? will thus take our experiments in citizen journalism to a new level—producing high quality, fact-checked facts that any citizen or journalist can quote and rely on.
Using the tool is simple. Pick a lawmaker you want to research from the project's home page, choose one their former aides from the the list taken from the September 2006 edition of the Congressional Directory, and look for any matches in the Senate Office of Public Records online database of lobbyist disclosures. If you do find a match, enter the firm's name and contact info from the SOPR database, and you're done with step one. If you want to verify the data, use the tool to keep track of your phone calls to the lobbying firm. And that's it. A fun little diversion for the holiday season. (P.S. -- For those curious, our friends at the Center for Responsive Politics maintain a pretty good list of former members of Congress who've gone through the revolving door--including those who left during the 109th Congress.)Continue reading
Our friends at CREW are providing a fantastic resource for reporters, bloggers, citizens and government document junkies--GovernmentDocs.org: An online compendium of scanned images of documents acquired from government agencies through the Freedom of Information Act by (right now) a handful of nonprofit groups (including the correspondence logs that Anu's been acquiring for our RealTime project). Documents that once would have been filed away can have second and third lives online, where they can be read, annotated, tagged, and otherwise scrutinized by anyone who signs up to create an account. CREW also uses OCR technology to make the images word-searchable; the results aren't always perfect but they do make the documents easier to navigate. CREW's release is online here, and, full disclosure: Sunlight Foundation supported the creation of the site.Continue reading