As a volunteer in politics, trying to improve my community, I realized the tremendous influence of wealthy interests which slant laws to their benefit. I co-founded MAPLight.org to shine the light of transparency on the river of money that underlies our politics and to help citizens hold their politicians accountable.
The biggest opportunity comes with getting government to post its data on campaign donations and voting records. It takes continuous, serious pressure to make this happen.
This past year, MAPLight.org sought data about how California legislators voted. We had to sue to force the government to release this information and we won. But it shouldnâ€™t take a lawsuit to make government make information available. Itâ€™s amazing that government has to be dragged into the 21st century in this way.
On the Congressional side, public records have been published sporadically if at all. Information on Congressional committee votes should be up on a website the same day the vote is taken, not released months later, if at all. Information about how our government representatives vote should be available to everyone and not just people or firms that can afford thousands of dollars for private subscriptions to this information.
The killer app is a political representative who is both honest and savvy about reaching and working with the voters. Itâ€™s a government official who will use the web more effectively to engage his or her constituents, whether they use email or discussion forums or other means. And conversely, we definitely need more and better ways to access elected leaders.
Iâ€™m excited that itâ€™s easier than ever for citizens and voters to determine what their elected officials are doing and hold them accountable.
The internet makes it possible for good research to be done and shared.
MAPLight.org is a lean and effective organization. With just six full-time staffers, we have reached at more than 13 million during the past year and a half with groundbreaking research findings on how campaign dollars align with lawmakersâ€™ votes. Our work has been featured on CNN, Marketplace, and hundreds of other media outlets. New Internet tools make it possible for organizations like ours to shine a light on government in ways that are farther-reaching than ever before. This empowerment of anyone who wants to shine a light on government is the exciting promise of Gov 2.0.