PRESS RELEASE: MAPLight.org launches Bill Positions API for Congress, provides up-to-date feeds of interest groups' positions on key bills

BERKELEY, CA, May 21, 2009 - MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that shows the connection between money and politics, announces the release of its new Congress API. The MAPLight.org Congress API provides live, up-to-date feeds of companies', organizations' and interest groups' positions in support or opposition to key bills in Congress. MAPLight.org launches 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 MAPLight.org’s executive director Daniel Newman.
 
“The Congress API allows programmers and other websites to easily show, in their own programs and websites, 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.”

MAPLight.org’s 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 MAPLight.org 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 our Money and Votes Widget, which displays the amount of contributions received from organizations that supported and opposed a given bill. To create a widget for a bill, first find a bill, select the Votes tab, then select Widget; this provides an interface where you can customize the widget and embed it in your website or blog.

For more information about the Sunlight Labs Data.gov Challenge visit: http://sunlightlabs.com/contests/appsforamerica2/.
For more information about Data.gov visit: http://www.data.gov/.

About MAPLight.org:

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Berkeley, California. Our mission is to illuminate the connection between Money and Politics (MAP) using our groundbreaking database of campaign contributions and legislative votes. We combine data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center for Responsive Politics, GovTrack.us, the National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP), the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and other sources to better inform Americans and local and national media about the role of special-interest money in our political system. Hundreds of newspapers, TV stations, radio shows and online news sites have cited our research, including CNN, the public radio show “Marketplace,” Harper’s magazine, The Washington Post, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal. MAPLight.org has received numerous awards including a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism; a James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter and a Webby nomination for best Politics website. To learn more, visit: MAPLight.org. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.

Media Contact

Pamela Behrsin
Communications
Office: (510) 868-0894
pamela@maplight.org