Money & Politics: Illuminating the Connection


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Talk about given to San Francisco Bay Region Chapter of the Special Libraries Association, June 3, 2009

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  • Money & Politics: Illuminating the Connection

    1. 1. Steve Toub Research Associate
    2. 2. My Background <ul><li>17 yrs in & around non-traditional libraries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Never worked in same place as print collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never did face-to-face reference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What led me to </li></ul><ul><li>Hired to do what metadata librarians do </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analyze, map, normalize, enrich metadata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help manage metadata repository that aggregates diverse data sets </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. About the Organization <ul><li>Nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c) 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Supported by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foundations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sunlight Foundation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rockefeller Brothers Fund </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual donors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>5 staff, 8 research interns </li></ul><ul><li>Downtown Berkeley </li></ul>
    4. 4. Organizational Vision <ul><li>Money’s influence on politics becomes the number one political issue </li></ul><ul><li>Federal, state and city governments implement citizen-funded financing of political campaigns </li></ul>
    5. 5. Organizational Focus <ul><li>Publishing data and tools </li></ul><ul><li>that allow journalists, bloggers, </li></ul><ul><li>nonprofit groups and citizens </li></ul><ul><li>to make the connection between </li></ul><ul><li>campaign contributions </li></ul><ul><li>and the legislative process </li></ul>
    6. 9. Types of Policy Transparency <ul><li>From the Transparency Policy Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government </li></ul><ul><li>Explanatory transparency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explaining issues, policies and programs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Procedural transparency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide insight into how & why decisions are made </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regulatory transparency systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disclosure and reporting incentives and requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dissemination in ways people can truly understand </li></ul></ul>
    7. 12. Eight Principles that Define Open Government Data <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>1. Complete </li></ul><ul><li>All public data are made available. Public data are data that are not subject to valid privacy, security of privilege limitations. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Primary </li></ul><ul><li>Data are collected at the source, with the finest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Timely </li></ul><ul><li>Data are made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Accessible </li></ul><ul><li>Data are available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes. </li></ul>
    8. 13. Eight Principles that Define Open Government Data <ul><li>5. Machine processable </li></ul><ul><li>Data are reasonably structured to allow automated processing. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Non-discriminatory </li></ul><ul><li>Data are available to anyone, with no requirement of registration. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Non-proprietary </li></ul><ul><li>Data are available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control. </li></ul><ul><li>8. License-free </li></ul><ul><li>Data are not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed. </li></ul>
    9. 14.
    10. 15. Campaign contributions… $
    11. 16. …and legislative votes $ votes
    12. 17. $700 Billion Financial Bailout <ul><li>Banks & securities firms gave an average of </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$212,700 to politicians voting yes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$150,982 to politicians voting no </li></ul></ul>
    13. 19. Telecom Immunity for Cooperating with Warrantless Wiretapping <ul><li>AT&T, Verizon and Sprint PAC contributions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$8,359 to each Democrat who flipped </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opposed retroactive immunity in March 2008 amendment but supported the June 2008 bill that included immunity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$4,987 to each Democrat who did not flip </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opposed retroactive immunity in March and June </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 21. Reported Campaign Contributions <ul><li>As reported by government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal Election Commission </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>California Secretary of State </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Los Angeles City Ethics Commission </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contributions less than disclosure threshold omitted </li></ul><ul><li>We expose only contributions to officeholders </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Candidates who lost don’t get to vote </li></ul></ul>$
    15. 22. Legislative Roll Call Votes <ul><li>U.S. Congress </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only floor votes; no committee votes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>California State Legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Los Angeles City Council </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Later this year </li></ul></ul>$ votes
    16. 23. Data Sources NIMSP State government websites $ votes
    17. 26. Obtaining Legislative Data <ul><li>California status </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lawsuit continues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sunlight Labs’ Fifty State Project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Announced in February 2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>First 10 days: 8 states done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Today: 25 states have scraper code, 11 more in progress </li></ul></ul><ul><li>U.S. Congress </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Senate votes became available in XML in May </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Still want committee votes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would like data in addition to campaign contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>real-time lobbying disclosure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>better disclosure of earmarks </li></ul></ul></ul>
    18. 27. Our value add is… Support & Opposition <ul><li>Gathered from: </li></ul><ul><li>Hearing testimony </li></ul><ul><li>News databases </li></ul><ul><li>Websites </li></ul>$ votes
    19. 37. June 4, 2003
    20. 39. Don’t like the default categories?
    21. 54. H.R. 801 – Fair Copyright in Research Works Act <ul><li>Would reverse NIH’s open access mandate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>passed by Congress in December 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Would amend copyright law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>create a new class of copyrighted material: stuff that your tax dollars paid for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to make it illegal for the government to require that works that are the result of government funding (not just NIH) be freely available </li></ul></ul>
    22. 58. Projects that went live in May <ul><li>Los Angeles site </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The first jurisdiction where we coded contributors into special interest categories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Phase two will include legislative data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bill Positions API </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides citations of organizations that support and oppose bills, primarily for 110th and 111th Congress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple read-only REST API </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Four methods, allowing you to search by organization or bill </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Responses in JSON and XML </li></ul></ul></ul>
    23. 59. Current Projects: Web Redesign <ul><li>Focus on usability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improving information design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improving interaction design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some backend improvements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Migrating to Drupal 6 and CiviCRM 2.2 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moving search from MySQL to Solr </li></ul></ul>
    24. 60. Current Projects: Metadata <ul><li>Redesign how we research bill positions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Want data to come to us automagically, rather than have interns hunt and peck </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift in orientation from bill as a whole to votes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Start including which industries benefit from legislation rather than those that explicitly support </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Normalizing and de-duping contributors, especially names of organizations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning to expose all contributors/contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Plan for expansion into all 50 states </li></ul><ul><li>Assess viability of including other datasets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Project Vote Smart API </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lobbying </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Earmarks </li></ul></ul>
    25. 61. Questions? <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>