New House Ethics Committee Report Search Tool, by Daniel Schuman, Sunlight Foundation (Aug. 4, 2011).
The House Ethics Committee is responsible for investigating and making recommendations on the enforcement of House ethics rules. In an nod towards transparency, its reports and statements are published online -- but they are virtually unusable. The Committee publishes documents in an unsearchable PDF format, spreads them out over of 24 pages, and gives them impenetrable titles like "Statement of the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member." Search engines (like Google) cannot see the documents, and only the most patient will click on each link to see what's inside.
We've taken all 120+ documents, made them searchable, and published them online in a database.
An issue that is near and dear to my heart, considering that I live in Louisiana, is that of recent government ethics reform initiatives from Governor Bobby Jindal. He was the focus of a recent New York Times article mentioning the "extensive package of ethics bills" passed recently.
One such bill includes House Bill 1 which "Enacts personal financial disclosures for the vast majority of elected and appointed officials in state and local government for the first time in Louisiana’s history".
Not everyone is happy about these changes. My favorite quote in the New York Times article:
"The volume of grumbling suggested real change was afoot.
'This is huge,' said D. W. Hunt, a veteran lobbyist at the Capitol. 'This is a sea change. This will seriously, dramatically change things. The meta-theme is the transparency.' "
Can you see the sweat on his forehead?
Louisiana is considered to rank low nationally on state ethics, but according to a statement issued by The Center for Public Integrity, these bills may put Louisiana in the top tier of states with tough ethics rules. Hopefully this will be the case, but we shall have to wait and see...
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Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations.
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