As fundraising for the 2014 congressional contests heats up and filing deadlines loom this week, the Sunlight Foundation is unveiling a new tool - the Real-Time FEC tracker - that will allow users to search, sort, filter and get alerts for campaign finance reports as they land at the Federal Election Commission.Continue reading
Congress has failed to keep the government running for more than a week, and even though life on the campaign fundraising circuit has slowed somewhat, the government shutdown won’t stop members of Congress from asking for—and receiving—campaign contributions. The unseemliness of elected officials dialing for dollars from fat cat contributors while 800,000 federal workers are shut out of their jobs is bad enough. But, as a twisted result of the government shutdown, Senate candidates will get a pass on filing their disclosure reports on time and the public will be completely in the dark as to who is funding their campaigns.Continue reading
Some mistakes die hard. House Republicans, eager to paint democrats as opposed to negotiations, are proposing a new Super Committee. The so-called Super Committee was the result of the last round of 11th hour negotiations over the debt limit, the ill-fated attempt to forge compromise out of concentrated congressional privilege. The last Super Committee enjoyed the prospect of direct access to the House and Senate floor for their recommendations (had they produced any), to be created in an environment completely insulated from the press, constituents and electoral consequences. (Though lobbyists still had no problems penetrating it.) While it's unclear how this Super Committee would be structured, it's unlikely to matter much since it appears to be another dead-end ploy from House Republicans trying to paint their long-organized defunding effort as some sort of play for greater compromise in Washington. The Super Committee was a secretive, misbegotten failure the first time around, and we should consider ourselves lucky if this one never gets taken seriously.Continue reading
As the government shutdown continues to consume the daily life of Congress, members sharing their thoughts on Twitter seem eager to frame events through the lens of the shutdown.Continue reading
Here's a brief round up of a number of Sunlight tools that you can use to follow updates on the ongoing government shutdown.Continue reading
Democrats are making a political bet that swing voters will make Republicans pay for the shutdown of the federal government.
Sunlight's Ad Hawk database, which tracks political ads and enables smartphone users to identify sources of money behind them, picked up four ads on Thursday by Democratic candidates or political action committees that tie GOP officeholders to the shutdown.
In Virginia, where voters go to the polls Nov. 5 to elect a new governor, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is linking his GOP opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose outspoken opposition to the implementation of ...Continue reading
The government shutdown is turning into a major denial of service for journalists and other citizens interested in tracking the influence of big money on politics. Not only is it preventing scrutiny of campaign finance records -- potentially leaving voters in at least one Louisiana special election with NO information on donors before they head to the polls -- it's also making it next to impossible to provide up-to-date information on political ad buys. The shuttering of the Federal Communications Commission's website has severely hamstrung Political Ad Sleuth, a tool that the Sunlight Foundation and Free Press developed last year to track those buys at hundreds of TV stations across the country. And there are plenty of them -- some of them attempt to capitalize on the shutdown itself.Continue reading
When the government shuts down and takes most of its data with it, the public needs to have a backup plan.Continue reading
With the federal government in shutdown mode, so is one of its main products: rule writing. Federal bureacrats who develop the regulations to implement major laws--from the Dodd Frank financial reform law to food safety standards to the Affordable Care Act itself--are out on furlough. This prospect may not bother many on the Republican side of the aisle, where regulations are not particularly popular anyway and efforts to roll them back are common. But many of these rules affect the very fabric of daily life.
This list illustrates some of the issues that are important to many Americans and that will be on hold until the budget impasse is resolved. It's by no means exhaustive, and the devil is often in the details when it comes to regulation writing. Dig in to the list and click around to read agency proposals and comments submitted about these proposals, or do your own searches on Docket Wrench.Continue reading
In shutting down the government, the nation's lawmakers also guaranteed a little less surveillance on themselves. Among the many agencies that will not be open for business as long as the political and budgetary stalemate continues is the Federal Election Commission, an agency created after the Watergate scandal. The idea was to reduce the possibilities of corruption in politics by making campaign donations more transparent. For the foreseeable future at least, those donations will be taking place under a cloak of darkness. Because the FEC's electronic filing system won't necessarily be available during the shutdown, the public will not be able to view the latest filings and filers will be free to ignore existing deadlines. Candidates will have until 24 hours after the government reopens to file campaign finance reports due during the shutdown. That could mean an extension for just about every candidate for federal office--there are two major filing deadlines fall this month. It also raises the possibility that some voters may not know the whole story about who's trying to influence their vote until after they go to the polls.Continue reading