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Two Apps Now in Development Hope to Expose the People Behind Political TV Ads

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, July 19 2012

Two new projects launching in summer or early fall seek to arm smart-phone-owning voters with new tools to navigate what is expected to be a $9.8 billion assault on their perception of reality. One is a mobile app from developer Bob Lannon and the Sunlight Foundation* called "Ad Hawk." The other, "Super PAC App," is from two graduate school students who came up with the idea in a MIT class that tasks students to come up with apps in a world that assumes that all television will be social — upending the one-way nature of broadcast TV that's contributed to negative political television advertising's success. Read More

Sunlight Foundation Unveils New Legislative Alert Service, Monitoring Action On Capitol Hill And All 50 States

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, June 11 2012

The Sunlight Foundation on Monday pulled the wraps off of a new legislative alert service that it's been testing since earlier this year. Read More

Transparency Advocates Frustrated With House Appropriators' Plan To Make A Plan

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, May 30 2012

Open government advocates are up in arms over what appears to be another attempt by government bureaucrats to stall the move to enable bulk data downloads of legislative information online. Read More

Facebook's Growing Political Importance, Visualized

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, May 17 2012

To commemorate Facebook's impending IPO, the Sunlight Foundation's* reporting group has a new story chronicling Facebook's increasing political spending. Accompanying the story, though, is an instance of their Capitol Words tool that shows Facebook's increasing relevance in Congress as well. Read More

The Rise of the Count(er) Culture: Notes on Transparency Camp 2012

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 30 2012

Transparency Camp 2012: Session Wall (Photo: Micah L. Sifry)

This year at Transparency Camp, not only did newly installed White House Chief Technology Office Todd Park give one of his trademark effusive speeches on the power of open data, it was easy to spot people from a variety of agencies including the Treasury Department, the FCC, EPA, NASA, the World Bank, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and Congress. Second, the people attending now spread far beyond the Beltway. About forty international transparency activists were on hand, some coming for their second year in a row. And lots of local governments and issue advocacy groups were represented, a sign that the idea of using tech and data to make government work better is spreading beyond the proverbial early adopter crowd. Read More

Things From This Weekend More Interesting Than #WHCD

BY Nick Judd | Monday, April 30 2012

At around this time every year, the barometric pressure for celebrity, power and wealth reaches record lows in Washington, D.C. Anyone who relies on hot air for their livelihood is caught up in the weather system of D.C. society and sucked into this stormy maw, which touched down this weekend at the Washington Hilton. Here's what some of the rest of us got up to this weekend while the hoi polloi were laughing along with the president. Read More

Sunlight Says House Appropriations Committee Not Making the Grade in Online Transparency

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 17 2012

Despite a House of Representatives rule adopted in January 2011 requiring that video of hearings be made available online, a full quarter of House hearings are not making it online, according to a new analysis by the Sunlight Foundation.* That's thanks in large part to the House Appropriations Committee, whose hearings account for 70 percent of those not available online, per Sunlight. Read More

Which Member of Congress Has the Biggest Vocabulary?

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, February 28 2012

Using the Sunlight Foundation's* Capitol Words API, independent analytics consultant Dan Kozikowski has put together a look at the vocabulary of each member of Congress and mapped the results on a Google map.

By his analysis, the most loquacious legislator in the House of Representatives is Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Kozikowski also looked for words said only once in Congress by members of each party since 1996, which is as far back as the data available through Sunlight goes. (Sunlight gets its data from the Congressional Record.)

Read More

U.S. Senate Could Save Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars If It Files Campaign Finance Reports Electronically, Says The FEC

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, February 17 2012

One little-noted item in President Obama's budget proposal this week was a recommendation to require U.S. senators to file their campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission electronically. The FEC estimates that the switch from paper to bits would save it $430,000 annually. Read More

San Francisco Publishes New Tool To Interpret Local Lobbying Information

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, January 20 2012

San Francisco's City Hall. Photo: Flickr/http: 2007

The San Francisco Ethics Commission on Thursday published a new tool that enables web developers to more easily access, interpret and mash up local lobbyist filing information. San Francisco follows Chicago, which also offers an application programming interface for its lobbyist database. New York City offers a searchable database online, but doesn't have an API. Read More