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How cool is this? Today the Center for Responsive Politics has announced that it’s putting 200 million data records from its archive directly into the hands of citizens, activists, journalists and anyone else interested in following the money in U.S. politics. The data are available through the site’s Action Center. Thanks OpenSecrets!
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 http://www.opensecrets.org/action/data.php:
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.