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BY Nancy Scola | Friday, April 10 2009

Via National Journal comes the news that, the Center for Responsive Politics' money tracking website, will soon be offering up its bread and butter: financial data detailing the role of money in politics. According to official organizational history, the first iteration of Open Secrets was an actual book -- 1,300 pages that analyzed the impact of cash in the 1988 elections, published two years after the fact. The site has since evolved into a real-time digital watchdog over everything from members of Congress' personal member finances to the funders of 527 groups to congressional travel habits to the endless cycle of staffers between official Washington and the lobbying world. From an email announcing the change:

For the first time in CRP's 26-year history as Washington's premier money-in-politics watchdog, we're making our most popular data archives fully available to the public for download -- for FREE. Putting our vast data on campaign finance, lobbying and the personal finances of lawmakers in more hands will put more eyes on Washington. More people counting cash will lead to more people making change.

For all but commercial users, the content will be released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. Commercial users will be subject to a fee. But you'll have to wait a bit longer: the data won't become available until next week.