Transparency and Technology: What the Center for Responsive Politics Wants You to Know
Sheila Krumholz says that a great day for her watchdog organization’s website OpenSecrets.org is "when Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow both use our site." Krumholz, the Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics, wants everyone to know how money in U.S. politics effects elections and public policy.
Her nonpartisan, independent, nonprofit, research group's OpenSecrets.org is the most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere.The aim of the Center for Responsive Politics is to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry, and a more transparent and responsive government.
Listen to this podcast where Krumholz shares her ideas about transparency and technology.
"We kind of view ourselves as being the wonky sets, pouring over data -- and that's not sexy," Krumholz says. "But really there's a lively conversation that takes place on our fan pages, and on Twitter, and on our blog."
That lively conversation is thanks to a decision Krumholz made in early 2009 to open up the center's full database -- at the time, 200 million records they had collected over the years.
Even for a group that's committed to freedom of information, the decision wasn't an easy one given the funding challenge the center faced as a nonprofit. "Going open was a huge decision," says Massie Ritsch, the center's former communications director. "I think they were originally of the mindset that they needed to guard the crown jewels, as it were, and not to give it away. Sheila thought long and hard about that, but she took a leap of faith. She trusted that having more eyes on it and more platforms for it would ultimately have a greater impact."
Now, new technological innovations that put a premium on transparency of information allow Krumholz and the Center for Responsive Politics to show how political cash often creates change. Krumholz will be featured in a podcast on Changemakers on June 16, 2010, sharing her views about transparency and technology.
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