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Opensecrets.org unveils redesigned web site

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 10:26 am in campaign finance, Election reform.

Opensecrets.org, a site dedicated to shining light on the link between money and campaigns for journalists and the public, has redesigned its web pages.

The site has a more modern appearance and new features. Check it out.

Read more for the press release.

WASHINGTON–Voters, activists, journalists and political professionals have a new tool for following the most expensive U.S. election ever. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has unveiled its redesign of OpenSecrets.org, the award-winning website that has illuminated connections between money, elections and public policy for millions of Americans.

Launching officially today as part of CRP’s celebration of its 25th anniversary, the new OpenSecrets.org expands on work “following the money” that the watchdog group began on paper with the 1988 congressional election. The advent of the Internet provided an ideal medium for this information, making it easy to update and share freely with voters and others. Since its launch in 1996, OpenSecrets.org has won four Webby Awards for being the Internet’s best politics site, and has been recognized by the National Press Club, PC Magazine, Time.com, Forbes.com and Yahoo!, among others.

“The new OpenSecrets.org is the Center’s 25th birthday gift to every voter, activist and journalist who wants to count cash to make change, and to anyone who’s curious about the many ways that money influences elections and public policies that affect all our lives,” said Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics.” Just as the founding fathers could not have imagined a presidential election costing more than $1 billion dollars, the founders of our organization could not have envisioned in 1983 how their little think tank would evolveinto the producer of the Internet’s most respected website following money in U.S. politics and a provider of authoritative data to citizens, activist groups, the news media and academia.”

In addition to having a fresh, livelier look with more images and graphics, the new website offers a number of innovative features designed to improve users’ understanding of CRP’s unparalleled data and users’ ability to share the information with others.

  • An improved site-wide search scans CRP’s multiple databases for information on politicians, prominent individuals (such as campaign donors), company or organization names, industries, keywords and ZIP codes.
  • MyOpenSecrets, a customization feature that allows users to watchdog what they want, delivers data on their choice of election races, politicians, industries, political action committees or independent advocacy groups. This will aid users who regularly visit OpenSecrets.org to search for the same information.
  • Customizable widgets are available in the site’s new Action Center for placement on other websites and blogs to track the presidential race, congressional elections or the political influence of particular industries.
  • Sharing tools on most every page of the new site allow users to virally spread the “open secrets” that they uncover, either by e-mailing links to others or by incorporating the information into a variety of social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, Digg and Reddit.
  • The site’s new navigation better classifies the variety of data that CRP now collects and analyzes. In the last two years, OpenSecrets.org has expanded beyond campaign finance to also track federal lobbying, Washington’s “revolving door,” privately sponsored congressional travel and the personal finances of Congress, the president and top executive branch officials.
  • The money-and-politics articles that CRP has published for years in its online newsletter are now front-and-center on OpenSecrets.org as part of a new blog called Capital Eye. The Center’s reporters and researchers will continue to produce in-depth reports using CRP’s data and will now post brief items daily.

To overhaul OpenSecrets.org, the Center worked with Bean Creative, an award-winning Web design company in Alexandria, Va., that has produced websites for the American Red Cross, Discovery Channel, PBS, the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution. Bean Creative also designed CRP’s new logo: a contemporary representation of a watchful, if not skeptical, deep blue eye that twinkles with a single star. The Center’s shift away from its more traditional logo, featuring the U.S. Capitol dome, represents the organization’s broader mission now of keeping an eye on Congress, the presidency and Washington’s influence industry, and of advocating for more transparent and responsive government.

While today marks the launch of the new OpenSecrets.org, the site will continue to develop and improve leading up to November’s election and in the years to come. The Action Center will soon offer public APIs (Application Programming Interface) so that data-crunchers can display or mashup CRP’s information with other datasets in new and interesting ways. And this summer, in partnership with Helium.com, the Center will be holding a writing contest for citizen journalists, using data found on OpenSecrets.org.

OpenSecrets.org’s redesign was funded with a combination of foundation grants, individual gifts and investment from the Center for Responsive Politics. Since the Center does not accept contributions from corporations, industry groups or labor unions, contributions from individuals and foundations are welcome to continue CRP’s research and the website.

“As the Center for Responsive Politics looks back on our first 25 years,” Krumholz said, “we’re excited about our future, and about the potential of the new OpenSecrets.org to inform citizens, empower them and advocate for a government that’s more transparent and responsive.”

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About the Center for Responsive Politics

Celebrating its 25th year in 2008, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nations premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy. The nonpartisan, nonprofit Center aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more responsive government. CRPs award-winning Web site, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere. For other organizations and news media, CRP’s exclusive data powers their online features tracking money in politics. CRP relies on support from a combination of foundation grants and individual contributions. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses, labor unions or trade associations.

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