PPF Blog

“Explore Campaign Finance” demo at Civic Hall – Thursday, May 28th

Our non-profit has worked with money-in-politics researchers since we ran OpenCongress from 2006 through 2013 – including OpenSecrets, Sunlight, FollowTheMoney, MapLight, LittleSis and others.

Even with the progress of digital #opengov & #opendata movements since 2007 or so, there’s tons more work to do in making arcane FEC data more accessible and finding meaning in campaign finance haystacks. Fortunately, civic hackers & data scientists are still working on popularizing powerful & shareable tools.

You’re invited to join me at Civic Hall in Manhattan this Thursday, May 28th, at 12:30 pm for a “brown-bag” lunch with Solomon Kahn, creator of a now-running Kickstarter campaign for an awesome new tool, “Explore Campaign Finance”.

Explore Campaign Finance crowdfunding video by Solomon Khan

Explore Campaign Finance crowdfunding video by Solomon Khan

Don’t miss out on the video demo – it seems to me this offers unique value as a data-viz and open-data public resource – Solomon is a Brooklyn-based data scientist, more about his projects. In short: campaign donation data comes from FEC to OpenSecrets in sectors and industries, and this tool enables viz & browsing far more easily by industry – and dive in to individual donor entities such as Blackstone Group.

He’s also enabled a similar high-leverage feature we did on OpenCongress, which is allowing user-generated comments surfacing insights & research findings directly on profile pages of elected officials and candidates – this can get really compelling. (Not unlike the inspirational LittleSis! Hey, Solomon has previously collaborated a bit with CH member og. DataKind too, it seems, on a U.S. budget viz.) PPF’s work on OpenCongress was the first non-profit site to display campaign donation info from OpenSecrets on the same profile pages for members of Congress (from GovTrack) with bill & committee info, with added news & blog coverage, user comments, wiki content, and later, unique-value MapLight research.

With this Kickstarter funding, my former OpenCongress colleague Donny Shaw will consult for Solomon for a couple months on outreach to campaign-finance researchers & reporters & political bloggers. It’s extremely generous of Solomon to offer this valuable resource free of charge & libre to the public, with basic funding going to outreach & hosting costs – he’s already gotten Twttr shout-outs from Prof. Lawrence Lessig and (CH member) Tim Karr of FreePress. So, a bunch of great partnerships happening around this. A lot of new legislative-body-research services launching in the past six months are closed-data and subscription-based, so if you can, please contribute to support important work that’s free & open to the public.

Glad that Solomon will give a live demo of the tool over lunch – visitors welcome, please have them email david at ppolitics dot org so I can add them to the Civic Hall guest list. Hope you can make it on Thursday, more info available anytime or email: Solomon dot Khan at the email service run by the Google corp. Shouts to our friends OpenSecrets for the source data (over 24k politicians) and Sunlight folks for its mini-opengov-grant support to help build Solomon’s demo. I’m david at ppolitics dot org, @ppolitics on Twttr. Thanks Solomon! (You know, brown bag it, bring y.o. lunch.)

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