Monday, May 07, 2007

A call for electronic financial disclosure forms from Congress


May 4, 2007

Contact: Gabriela Schneider
202-742-1520, ext. 236

WASHINGTON, DC - Leading a broad coalition of government transparency advocates from left and right, the Sunlight Foundation today petitioned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to make personal financial disclosure reports by members of Congress freely available on the Internet as soon as they are made public.

"This measure is a straightforward way to ensure that citizens have meaningful access to public information in the Internet age," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. "Quick, online filing of personal financial disclosure reports will help Congress in meeting its pledge to increase government transparency and will better deter corruption by uncovering conflicts of interests faster than the current, cumbersome system which requires poring through pages of documents long after they are filed."

The coalition asked Pelosi to include a provision in the lobbying reform bill that would require members of Congress to file their personal financial disclosure statements electronically and make them available in searchable, publicly accessible databases on the House and Senate Web sites. Currently, Congress makes House members' reports "public" only to individuals who can personally go to Cannon House Office building on Capitol Hill.

This recommendation would make Congress follow the same electronic disclosure rules that now apply to lobbyists, campaign committees and 527-organizations.

Organizations joining the Sunlight Foundation in this petition include The Campaign Finance Institute, The Campaign Legal Center, The Center for Democracy and Technology, The Center for Responsive Politics, Common Cause, National Taxpayers Union, OMB Watch,, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Founded in January, 2006, the mission of the Sunlight Foundation is to strengthen the relationship between lawmakers and their constituents. Sunlight puts information and tools in citizens' hands so they can learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing. Its ultimate goal is full transparency by Congress, its Members and staff will help reduce corruption, ensure greater accountability, and foster public trust in this vital institution of democracy.

Since its founding, the Sunlight Foundation has issued nearly $2 million to groups to digitize existing information about Congress and those that use Internet technology to further Sunlight's goals. Additionally, the Sunlight Foundation has fostered its own projects such as Congresspedia, and Congress' Family Business.


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