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What Lobbyists Say On Twitter

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, November 9 2011

The Sunlight Foundation* today released a Twitter list of registered lobbyists.

Lists are fun, sure. But what's a little more fun is how Sunlight built the list:

By querying Twitter’s API, we tried to match the names of thousands of registered lobbyists from Center for Responsive Politics data with Twitter user names. Because Twitter only allows a limited number of queries each day, matches were only attempted for about one fourth of the over 15,000 lobbyists that were registered in 2009 or 2010. When a lobbyist’s name matched a Twitter user name, and when more biographical data matched the details in the Twitter profile, the account was included in our list. Then, we supplemented the list by searching Twitter for lobbyists we are familiar with and top spending lobbying firms.

There are 235 lobbyists on the list so far, offering what's supposed to be a look into the daily routines of people with influence on the Hill. The number of queries Twitter allows a given computer to make per day is limiting — but I wonder what would come out of a more detailed analysis of those tweets. For example, I wonder what lobbyists' tweets, taken in aggregate, tell us about what they think of D.C.'s lobbying regulations?

(* Personal Democracy Media's Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej are senior advisers to the Sunlight Foundation.)

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