- Center for Responsive Politics
The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) is a non-profit, nonpartisan research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics and the effect of money and lobbying activity on elections and public policy and maintains a public online database of its information.
Their database OpenSecrets.org allow Web users to track federal campaign contributions and lobbying activity in a variety of ways, such as by industry and interest group. Other resources include the personal financial disclosures of every member of the United States Congress, the president and top members of the administration. Users can also search by ZIP codes to learn how their neighbors are allocating their political contributions.
Founded in 1983, the Center aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government. The Center was founded in 1983 by retired U.S. Senators Frank Church of Idaho (a Democrat) and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania (a Republican), and for more than a decade published its work tracking money in politics and its effect on elections and public policy in extensive reports and books. The first Open Secrets book, published in 1990, was a massive 1,300 pages and analyzed contributions by political action committees in the 1988 congressional elections. OpenSecrets.org, first launched in 1996, is the online incarnation of the Open Secrets money-in-politics project the center launched in the 1980s, which was contained in large, printed books. The Center's website, OpenSecrets.org, has won four Webby Awards (2001, 2002, 2006, 2007) for being the best politics site online. In 2010, OpenSecrets.org was named a Webby Official Honoree.
During the middle of the 2000s, the Center created a Revolving Door database that tracks former federal government officials that become lobbyists, and vice versa. Also established: a comprehensive database on federal lawmakers' personal finances, a database of political action committee money and campaign finance profiles of more than 120 business industries. In 2009, the center co-released several comprehensive studies. They including a project database linking federal earmarks to lobbying expenditures and a database detailing both the state and federal campaign donation activities of thousands of corporations and special interest groups. In 2010, the Center produced an extensive section tracking the expenditures of outside organizations attempting to influence federal political races. The Center also maintains a project, created jointly with nonpartisan organization Taxpayers for Common Sense, that tracks campaign contributions and lobbying activity of organizations and entities receiving federal earmarks.
The OpenSecrets Blog is the Center's home for original journalism, as written by a small staff of reporters. In 2010, OpenSecrets.org published more than 600 articles on a range of topics related to political influence and money in politics, including two lengthy series about the oil and gas industry and the 2010 midterm elections. The rise of independent political spending, the demise of self-funded candidates and an increase in federal lobbying activities were also frequent themes. Numerous other OpenSecrets.org reports made national news, including pieces about journalists' political donation habits, an internal JPMorgan Chase memo detailing the company's political outlook and the personal finances of federal lawmakers. American University in Washington, D.C., named OpenSecrets.org to its 2010 list of organizations that compose the nation's "new journalism ecosystem." OpenSecrets.org reporters also broke several national news stories in 2009, such as an investigation into the political donation patterns of NFL football teams and analysis of how local and state governments use taxpayer money to lobby the federal government. The information within two weeks-long reporting projects—one focusing on federal health care reform and another on financial reform -- have been cited in the press dozens of times throughout 2009 and 2010. In 2009, Project Censored honored the OpenSecrets Blog for covering what it considers three of the 25 most underreported news stories that year.
Support for the Center comes from a combination of foundation grants, individual contributions and payments from custom research requests. Major donors to the Center include the Sunlight Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Open Society Institute, the Joyce Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses, trade associations or labor unions. According to the organization's 990 form, in 2007, it had just over $1 million in revenue and net assets of $1.6 million.
Sheila Krumholz has been the Center's executive director since December 2006, having served for eight years as the Center's research director. She first joined the Center's staff in 1989 and was assistant editor of the first edition of the printed volume of Open Secrets.
Information Technology Director Susan Alger and current Research Director Jihan Andoni have both worked for the Center since 1999. Communications Director Dave Levinthal, who serves as the Center's spokesman and edits the OpenSecrets Blog, joined in 2009 after working for seven years as a political reporter at The Dallas Morning News.
Krumholz and Levinthal regularly appear as commentators and analysts on national news networks and programs, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Democracy Now!, and the BBC. Hundreds of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today, have also cited the Center's data and quoted its directors. On October 30, 2007, the Center's former communications director, Massie Ritsch, was featured on the Colbert Report.
- ^ Mission | OpenSecrets
- ^ OpenSecrets.org Featured in Book About Under-the-Radar News Stories, September 21, 2009
- ^ http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2007/521/275/2007-521275227-04779f45-9.pdf
- ^ http://www.opensecrets.org/about/staff.php
- ^ http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/127605/october-30-2007/massie-ritsch
- "About the Site". opensecrets.org. The Center for Responsive Politics. http://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. (short history of The Center for Responsive Politics)
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