PPF Blog

#AskReid: another question reaches its goal, for Sunshine Week

Update – Friday March 21st, 4pm:

Just today, our friends with OpenSecrets.org delivered your signatures in-person to Sen. Reid’s office!

How awesome. Here’s Sarah Flocken, outreach coordinator,  dropping off the signatures in support of a public answer to their question about when this important transparency bill will come to a vote.

Sarah of OpenSecrets.org delivering your question on AskThem.

Sarah of OpenSecrets.org delivering your question on AskThem.

Thank you, Sarah & everyone at CRP! Your vital open research on money-in-politics powers so many open-government websites. We’ll keep pinging Sen. Reid’s communications team to encourage an update about the e-filing bill on our non-profit platform.


We just delivered our first question to a U.S. senator for a public response on AskThem, and it’s a terrific one.

Over 500 people signed-on to hear a public response.

Over 500 people signed-on to hear a public response.

The non-profit money-in-politics watchdogs at OpenSecrets.org asked a question to Senator Harry Reid about e-filing of campaign contributions as part of Sunshine Week in D.C., and pushed it over the goal of 500 signatures for delivery.

… so now, until Sen. Reid’s office responds (even just a couple of sentences will do for a start, but a bit more heft would be preferable – think, a short email length), this question will live in a couple different places on AskThem:

  • In a gallery of questions sitewide that “need answers” – e.g. that reached their signature threshold and do not have an official response.
  • On the Nevada state government page of questions that “need answers“, similarly, and on Sen. Reid’s profile page on AskThem.
  • We’ll Tweet at @SenatorReid about once per week with a friendly reminder that his question reached a threshold of support on our open platform.

… next steps after that? Ideally, a communications staffer from Sen. Reid’s office signs up on our non-profit, non-partisan, open-source web platform to respond to a couple of popular questions every month. It’s a lot less time-intensive than tending a regular Facebook or Twitter account, and it’s tied to “good questions” that receive significant community endorsement. In the future, we’ll do more to highlight questions that have the most support from Sen. Reid’s constituents in Nevada, though his national role as Majority Leader certainly means this question deserves a public response.

We’ve been grateful to work with the good folks at the Center for Responsive Politics, who publish all the open-data on campaign contributions to federal elected officials, since 2006 when we created OpenCongress. This Sunshine Week ask of Sen. Reid – to bring Senate disclosure staggering into the 21st century, with a bill mandating timely & machine-readable e-filing – is absolutely the kind of pressing question we seek to facilitate on AskThem.

To Sen. Reid’s office – AskThem is a tiny non-profit project working to encourage greater public accountability and dialogue with our elected officials. Sign up to give a response to this popular question, it’s free of charge and open to everyone. Simply register a free AskThem account and then email david at askthem.io from the email you used – we’ll send a special verification email and your account on AskThem will be verified to respond to any question. And you’ll be an open-government leader – but not as much as if you bring S. 375, the Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, to a vote. Well, maybe the same amount. We’re deeply interested in mitigating the systemic corruption of campaign contributions on the federal legislative process, towards better public-benefit policy outcomes & rehabilitated political trust in our despised U.S. Congress, and real transparency about money-in-politics is a very-basic first step down that path.

Questions & feedback welcome, david at ppolitics.org, @ppolitics on micropublishing.

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