The Sunlight Foundation’s Ellen Miller has written this interesting post about what might be next for lobbyist disclosure.
Imagine a world where the entire influence economy in Washington were available to the public, online and in real time. The coverage of the health care debate would be far different if newspapers featured widgets on their web sites showing the daily “take” for local congressmen and senators from the health insurance and drug companies. A daily updated database of lobbyist contacts would show which special interests were involved in the secretive Baucus Gang of Six meetings over the summer. Imagine a searchable and downloadable database of all Congressional earmarks so in an instant you could see what government is spending our tax dollars on. Imagine having this sort of information across the federal government right now — being able to track who is paying for lobbying whether in Congress or at the regulatory agencies, and what those discussions entail. One could quickly sort or browse all paid lobbying for individual clients or issue areas, and understand what agency actions are up for grabs.
The post includes mock-ups of an online disclosure system.