MAPLight Tracks Positions on Key Bills

MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that shows the connection between money and politics, announces the release of its new Congress API, which provides live, up-to-date feeds of companies', organizations', and interest groups' positions in support or opposition to key bills in Congress.

The organization launched this free Congress API on the heels of Data.gov, the Obama administration's vast new reservoir of downloadable government datasets and the Sunlight Foundation's "Apps for America 2: The Data.gov Challenge" contest to encourage the creation of new data mashups that support the government transparency movement.

"The MAPLight.org Congress API was designed to help talented software developers create the next government transparency killer app to hold elected officials accountable," said Executive Director Daniel Newman.

"The Congress API allows programmers and other Web sites to easily show, in their own programs and Web sites, whether companies like ExxonMobil or interest groups like the Sierra Club support or oppose key legislation," said Newman. "MAPLight.org researchers comb through public information sources daily to shine a much-needed light on special-interest groups' influence on U.S. Congress. We're making this dataset freely available to foster transparency and promote participatory democracy."

The API provides data on which special-interest groups support or oppose key bills. MAPLight.org's researchers gather this support and opposition data from public-record sources: testimony at Congressional hearings, news articles, and public statements of trade associations and other interest groups. The API, updated daily, provides access to interest-group positions for the current session of Congress (111th), the 2007-2008 Congress (110th), selected bills from the 109th Congress, and the California State Legislature (2003-2004).

The Congress API is available free to anyone who registers and abides by the Terms of Service. Using the API requires enough programming knowledge to be able to parse JSON or XML. For more information, visit http://maplight.org/api_about. Non-programmers may also be interested in the Money and Votes Widget, which displays the amount of contributions received from organizations that supported and opposed a given bill.

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