“During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to “create a centralized Internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records and campaign finance filings in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format.” Last week, President Obama fulfilled that promise with the rollout of Ethics.gov, which “brings records and data from across the federal government to one central location, making it easier for citizens to hold public officials accountable.”
Ethics.gov is available to the public and allows anyone to access and search the records of seven different databases:
• White House Visitor Records;
• Office of Government Ethics Travel Reports;
• Lobbying Disclosure Act Data;
• Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act Data;
• Federal Election Commission Individual Contribution Reports;
• Federal Election Commission Candidate Reports; and
• Federal Election Commission Committee Reports.
According to a White House press release, the database includes millions of White House visitor records, records for entities registered with the Federal Election Commission such as PACs, records for each candidate who has either registered with the FEC or appeared on a ballot list prepared by a state elections office, lobbying registrations, and much more.
On his Sunlight Foundation blog, John Wonderlich, who is Policy Director for the Sunlight Foundation and an advocate for open government, wrote that while Ethics.gov fulfilled the president’s pledge, “neither money and politics research nor executive branch oversight are going to be revolutionized by this search page — at least not yet.” He added that while it will not happen immediately, the site could become a primary destination for investigative journalists or ethics officials.”
More here and here.