Sunlight Down the Spider Hole

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. – Louis Brandeis

This is the defining statement that The Sunlight Foundation claims to base their cause on. Oh, if that were only even remotely true…

Founded in January 2006, the Foundation has a stated goal of using the revolutionary power of the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing and thus help reduce corruption, ensure greater transparency and accountability by government and foster public trust in the vital institutions of democracy. At the declared core of all of the Foundation’s work is a focus on the power of technology and the Internet to transform the relationship between citizen’s and their government.

The truth is somewhat different however. The Foundation and its many tentacles, began in 2006 during the Bush Administration. I suspect it was meant to be used to skew political instances against the Republicans in order to assure an Obama win in 2008 – to snare them in a web of record so-to-speak. It made for a great political weapon and it certainly didn’t hurt. However, during the current Administration, much of what The Sunlight Foundation and its minions record is either soft-balled, inaccurate or twisted to make it look more favorable. Politics at its finest! It is a very insidious and clever form of propaganda, claiming one thing, while in reality doing the opposite. A classic Progressive tactic.

Claiming non-partisanship and not officially supporting any candidate, in 2007, the Foundation did have three specific priorities for the incoming Congress in 2007:

  • Contemporaneous online filing: “The public reports about campaign receipts and expenditures, personal financial disclosure, trips, gifts and travel currently required of lawmakers should be filed electronically [on a monthly basis] and shared online within 24 hours of their filing.” Moreover, the Foundation believes that candidates’ Personal Financial Disclosure reports should be amended to require disclosure of the affiliations of lawmakers (and their family members) with political organizations or charities.
  • Ending secret legislation: “All earmarks, bills, and amendments should include an identification of the proposing Member’s name. All non-emergency legislation should be posted online, in its final form, at least 72 hours before a vote.”
  • Meaningful lobbyist disclosure: “All who are paid to engage in direct issue advocacy with lawmakers and their staff should be required to register, and all registered lobbyists should disclose all legislative contacts, all legislation and regulations discussed, all contributions they make and coordinate to Members and organizations affiliated with members, all prior government employment, and any relationship to a current Member of Congress, staff member, or executive branch employee.”

Now, I ask you, has ANYONE made any noise about the above three priorities during the Obama Administration that you know of? Token at best and primarily against the right side of the aisle. In fact the left side of the aisle has done the opposite of the above – they have gone all gonzo on financial corruption, meetings in secret, undecipherable legislation for nefarious purposes, power grabs and shredding the Constitution. Either The Sunlight Foundation is massively incompetent or corrupt. I vote for number two, Bob.

The Foundation’s initial projects – from the establishment of a Congresspedia, the making of “transparency grants” for the development and enhancement of databases and websites and two separate efforts to engage the public in distributed journalism and offer online tutorials on the role of money in politics efforts – are based on the premise that the collective power of citizens to demand greater accountability is the clearest route to reform.

Unfortunately, the supporters of The Sunlight Foundation are suspect and funding is provided, in part, by George Soros. Therefore, the transparency and the claim of participants of self-policing blogs etc., while reducing corruption and increasing accountability, is highly doubtful and most likely is being used to an extent as a propaganda outlet.

The Sunlight Foundation was founded by Ellen Miller and Michael Klein because of claimed concerns about the influence of money and relationships, as well as a fear of corruption, in Congress. The Sunlight Foundation was launched in April 2006 with a $3.5 million contribution from co-founder Michael Klein, a securities lawyer.

From Discover The Networks:

The Foundation’s co-founder and Executive Director is Ellen Miller, who previously served as Deputy Director of the Campaign for America’s Future, where she directed its Project for an Accountable Congress. She also established the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics (which is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts) and Public Campaign (funded by the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Columbia Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Ford Foundation, the JEHT Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy). Miller is the former publisher of TomPaine.com, a former fellow at The American Prospect and an occasional contributor to The Nation.

Michael Klein is co-founder and Chairman of The Sunlight Foundation. In January 2006, he retired from the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering after 35 years as a practicing attorney. He now serves as a trustee of the American Himalayan Foundation and the Pen Faulkner Foundation.

A Senior Fellow at The Sunlight Foundation is veteran journalist and editor Bill Allison, who for nine years worked for the George Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity, where he co-authored The Cheating of America, whose central thesis holds that “the rich and powerful shirk their responsibilities” as taxpayers. Allison was also senior editor of The Buying of the President 2000 and co-editor of The Buying of the President 2004.

Another Senior Fellow at the Foundation is Larry Makinson, who was a journalist in Alaska in the mid-1980s and then worked for fifteen years at the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), including two years as its Executive Director. After leaving CRP he spent a year as Senior Fellow at the Center for Public Integrity.

The National Director of The Sunlight Foundation is Zephyr Teachout, who formerly worked as a lecturer at the University of Vermont and was Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean‘s 2004 presidential campaign. A licensed attorney, Teachout has represented indigent death-row inmates in North Carolina for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation; she was also the co-founding Executive Director of the Fair Trial Initiative, a fellowship program that trains young lawyers in death penalty trial work.

The Sunlight Foundation’s major disbursements (ranging from $25,000 to $325,000) in 2006 included grants to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (which also has received financial backing from George SorosOpen Society Institute, Democracy Alliance, the Tides Foundation, the Streisand Foundation and the Arca Foundation), the Young Elected Officials Network, (a project of People for the American Way), MAPLight.org, the Center for Responsive Politics, OMB Watch, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Center for Citizen Media, NewAssignment.Net, Room Eight, the Project on Government Oversight and ReadtheBill.org. Smaller grants (ranging from $1,650 to $16,000) were made to Metavid, More Perfect, Arizona Congresswatch, the Connecticut Local Politics Blogspot, WashingtonWatchdog.org, the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the Project on Government Oversight and the BluegrassReport.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? I am. Almost all of these lean left and/or are Progressive. Well spent funds indeed.

The Sunlight Foundation website features or featured four blogs on the subject of ethics and money in Washington D.C.; they are run by four of its principals: Citizen’s Notebook (Zephyr Teachout); Sunspots (Ellen Miller); Under the Influence (Bill Allison) and Dollarocracy (Larry Makinson). I’m not sure if all of these still exist, but they are leftist in nature and purpose. The Sunlight Foundation’s site currently reads like a conservative hit piece.

  • Assets: $2,066,772 (2009)
  • Grants Received: $7,111,704 (2009)
  • Grants Awarded: $2,640,282 (2009)

But wait, there’s more:

Contributions

2011

That’s just 2011. Question – is charity in the name of political expediency still charity? The Foundation doesn’t try to hide any of its connections – it’s right there for all to see. George Soros is The Open Society Institute. Do you really think these organizations are being ethical and transparent when they are bought and paid for by the likes of George Soros? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you and some great swamp land that you really must see or not.

Just how deep does Sunlight go down the Soros spider hole? All the way to the bottom baby. Don’t mistake sunlight for an on-coming Progressive freight train bent on manipulating political data online.



19 thoughts on “Sunlight Down the Spider Hole

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  4. When’s your book coming out, Teressa? You’re becoming quite the prolific author! Another insightful piece! Kudos! Very enlightening–like sunshine!

    “Fluffers”

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