[okfn-discuss] Fwd: News from CRP: OpenSecrets.org goes OpenData

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Thu Apr 23 23:47:12 UTC 2009

Just in case people haven't already seen this...

(Its a shame data has NC restrictions!)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
OpenSecrets.org Goes OpenData

 Award-winning website from the Center for Responsive Politics now
provides 20 years of downloadable money-in-politics data -- for free

MEDIA CONTACT: Massie Ritsch

Communications Director

Center for Responsive Politics

Direct: (202) 354-0111

E-mail: press at crp.org

WASHINGTON (April 13, 2009) -- Politicians, prepare yourselves.
Lobbyists, look out. Today the nonpartisan Center for Responsive
Politics is putting 200 million data records from the watchdog group's
archive directly into the hands of citizens, activists, journalists
and anyone else interested in following the money in U.S. politics.

For the first time in CRP's 26-year history, the nonprofit research
group's most popular data archives are fully and freely downloadable
for non-commercial purposes from the Center's website, OpenSecrets.org
-- a four-time Webby winner for best politics site online.
OpenSecrets.org will remain the go-to independent source for most
users interested in tracking money's political influence and, in fact,
the site has some new general-interest features as of today. (More on
those below.)

With today's announcement, skilled data-divers can explore the
information that's already aggregated on OpenSecrets.org to its full
depth. Web developers and database experts can grab federal
money-in-politics data that CRP's researchers have standardized and
coded, and mash it up with other data sets. Timelines, charts, maps,
other graphics and mobile applications are just some of the projects
that could result -- all powered by CRP's unparalleled data.

"Putting our data into more hands will put more eyes on Washington
and, we hope, engage more Americans in their government," CRP
Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said. "We hope that more people
counting cash will lead to more people making change."

The OpenSecrets OpenData initiative is being generously underwritten
by a three-year $1.2 million grant from Sunlight Foundation, which
supports uses of the Internet to promote greater transparency of
government and the interplay in Washington between money and public

"Building on its outstanding and long-earned reputation for accuracy
and integrity, CRP is giving the public the keys to take government
transparency to the next level," said Ellen Miller, Sunlight
Foundation's executive director and co-founder. "This will have a
long-term impact, undoubtedly inspiring many effective and creative
uses of the data by civic hackers, journalists and bloggers."

Center's Researchers Clean Up, Categorize Government Data

The following data sets, along with a user guide, resource tables and
other documentation, are now available in CSV format (comma-separated
values, for easy importing) through OpenSecrets.org's Action Center at

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: 195 million records dating to the 1989-1990 election
cycle, tracking campaign fundraising and spending by candidates for
federal office, as well as political parties and political action
committees. CRP's researchers add value to Federal Election Commission
data by cleaning up and categorizing contribution records. This allows
for easier totaling by industry and company or organization, to
measure special-interest influence.
LOBBYING: 3.5 million records on federal lobbyists, their clients,
their fees and the issues they reported working on, dating to 1998.
Industry codes have been applied to this data, as well.
 PERSONAL FINANCES: Reports from members of Congress and the executive
branch that detail their personal assets, liabilities and transactions
in 2004 through 2007. The reports covering 2008 will become available
to the public in June, and the data will be available for download
once CRP has keyed those reports.
527 ORGANIZATIONS: Electronically filed financial records beginning in
the 2004 election cycle for the shadowy issue-advocacy groups known as
527s, which can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, labor
unions and individuals.

To download bulk data from OpenSecrets.org, users must register on the
site and agree to prominently credit the Center for Responsive
Politics, along with other terms of service. CRP is making its data
available through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share
Alike license, which allows users to remix, tweak, build upon and
share the Center's work non-commercially. CRP will continue to offer
its data to commercial users for a negotiable fee.

OpenSecrets.org also offers a number of APIs (Application Programming
Interfaces) to give users direct access via web programming to data
displayed on OpenSecrets.org. Web developers are already using these
APIs to display OpenSecrets data on their web pages and create mashups
using live, up-to-date data.

Users can also share CRP data using OpenSecrets.org's widgets, which
can be placed easily on any website or blog. New widgets for the 2010
election cycle are in development.

Another New Feature: Enhanced Politician Profiles

In addition to making its data archives available, today the Center
has enhanced its online campaign finance profiles for members of
Congress. Visitors to OpenSecrets.org now have three options for
viewing the top industries and contributors supporting a particular
lawmaker: 1) money raised by the politician's campaign committee, 2)
money raised by the politician's leadership PAC or 3) money raised by
the campaign and PAC combined. More than 300 members of Congress are
also linked to a political action committee, ostensibly to raise money
to support other members of their party.

"Campaign committees and leadership PACs are two of the deepest
pockets in a politician's coat," Krumholz said, "so it's important to
watch them together to see who's potentially building the most
influence with a lawmaker."

OpenSecrets.org's enhanced profiles for members of Congress also now
allow users to download deeper tables of data-aggregated data and
"top" rankings, but not individual records, in a variety of formats
with one easy click. This feature will be integrated into other
sections of OpenSecrets.org in the future.

Krumholz said, "All these enhancements to OpenSecrets.org are about
one thing: showing more people how money's influence on politics
affects their lives--and empowering them to do something about it."

#  #  #

OpenSecrets.org's bulk data is now available for download through the
site's Action Center at

The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research
group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and
public policy. For more than 25 years the nonpartisan, nonprofit
Center has aimed to create a more educated voter, an involved
citizenry and a more responsive government. CRP's award-winning
website, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for
campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere.
For other organizations and news media, CRP's exclusive data powers
their online features tracking money in politics. CRP relies on
support from a combination of foundation grants and individual
contributions. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses,
labor unions or trade associations.

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation

More information about the okfn-discuss mailing list