Image Courtesy: Flickr/Kevin Burkett
It’s been a summer of drama in the U.S.: the battles around the debt limit and the S&P’s downgrading of the U.S.’s Triple A rating, all fueling citizens’ already fueled concerns about the economy and jobs and the nation’s future. Now, the controversial Super Congress is taking shape to cut discretionary funding and direct spending by $1.5 trillion through 2021.
In light of the roller-coaster ride, any takers to see what they can do with the Sunlight Foundation Sunlight Lab’s recently introduced Influence Explorer Text API? Another step in the Foundation’s mission to make government transparent and accountable, the API provides real-time textual analysis for the Foundation’s Inbox Influence plug-in that lets users see in their emails the political contributions behind names mentioned in these messages.
We had a chance to have an email conversation with Ethan Phelps-Goodman, Project Lead: Data Commons, at the Sunlight Foundation to better understand what the API can do.
Semantic Web Blog: With lawmakers tapped for the Super Congress, we’re starting to see stories about their political patrons, their special interest connections, and so on. How can the Influence Explorer API be leveraged to help the public better understand these individuals and their political backgrounds/agendas? And if you’ve been using it to that end in recent days, come across anything interesting the public should know about?
Phelps-Goodman: Influence Explorer can give a great deal of background on the fundraising activities of members of congress. A recent series of posts from The Atlantic is a great example. Our own Reporting group also did a series of influence profiles of the Super Congress. Even more interesting will be the lobbying activity around the Super Congress’ work. Tracking the money spent on lobbying will have to wait until the disclosure period ends at the end of the year. But you can get a head start on things now at our Lobbyist Registration Tracker, where new lobbying contracts are updated as they happen.