Sunlight Foundation Promotes Political Transparency

Sunlight Foundation Promotes Political Transparency

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Americans are easily upset when they learn that their elected officials aren’t being honest with them. Whether that means a bill is rushed through Congress without the chance of being reviewed or some other secretive way of managing the affairs of the nation come to light, people of every political stripe want to know the facts and they want that information presented to them objectively. As you might guess, objective news is hard to come by particularly when the political climate has been heated up and Americans find themselves divided.

Keeping An Eye On Government

Sunlight FoundationOne organization, the Sunlight Foundation, is doing its best to shine the light on our elected officials particularly in instances where a conflict of interest is evident. Working in cooperation with everyday citizens, bloggers and professional journalists, this non-partisan foundation examines Democrats and Republicans alike, making sure that our elected and appointed officials abide by many of the same rules that they have put into place.

Founded by Ellen S. Miller and Michael Klein, the Sunlight Foundation has been getting a lot of press lately for calling on Congress to post proposed legislation online for at least 72 hours before it is brought up for debate.  That 72 hour window would allow citizens to review the legislation, giving Americans the chance to voice their opinions to their elected officials, if desired. A bill, H. Res. 554, is being considered which would require the U.S. House of Representatives to post online all non-emergency legislation 72 hours before debate begins.

Long a supporter of government transparency, the Sunlight Foundation has created a website at ReadTheBill.org in order to advance the cause. The organization has received broad bi-partisan support for the bill and includes Newt Gingrich, Joe Trippi, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Federation of American Scientists, National Taxpayers Union and US PIRG among its supporters.

A Matter Of Trust

“We commend Reps. Baird and Culberson for demonstrating such strong support for increasing legislative transparency in the House,” said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation. “By making the core activity of the House—the consideration of legislation—more transparent, this rules change would strengthen the public’s trust in the institution, improve legislation and trim wasteful spending. When legislation is not available for lawmaker or public review, we end up with special amendments like the Stimulus Bill’s last-minute loophole that allowed AIG executives to receive retroactive bonuses at the American taxpayers’ expense. If Congress and citizens alike had 72 hours to read the Stimulus Bill online, someone would have noticed the AIG provision and fixed it before it became law.”

These days, many people are feeling that the federal government doesn’t listen to them, which creates frustration and mistrust. By helping Americans keep tabs on what is going on in Washington, DC and elsewhere, the Sunlight Foundation empowers people to take action. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including The Open Senate Project, Capitol Words and OpenCongress.

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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".