Let the Sun Shine In!

Virginia state government has taken another big step towards transparency thanks to the publication today of the Virginia Public Access Project’s redesigned website. VPAP provides a deeper, richer database of campaign contributions and lobbying activity, and it’s searchable in more ways than ever.

Click on the profile for Attorney General Bob McDonnell, candidate for governor, and you have a choice of tabs for viewing his data by top donors (Mark J. Kington, $28,500), top industries (real estate developers, $63,301), top vendors (Commonwealth Consultants, $56,634), and top services (staff, political consultants, $148,459).

So, you wonder who this Mark Kington fellow is. Click on his name, and you reach his profile. He’s an Alexandria-based venture capitalist (and former business partner of U.S. Sen.-elect Mark Warner, although the database doesn’t tell you that).

Back to the McDonnell profile, and you can click on a tab that provides all previous election results, all campaign financing committees associated with the candidate, and expenditure info as detailed as the fact that he has spent $1,671 at Sine Irish Pub (a great place to grab a beer or dinner near the state capitol, by the way).

Legislator data goes deeper than ever before, providing easy access to the lawmaker’s financial disclosure information: salary (within broad monetary ranges), corporate affiliations, personal liabilities, investments, privately funded payments for trips, taxpayer funded payment for trips, gifts, business interests and more.

Once upon a time, this information resided only in dusty government offices in Richmond. It was a pain to access, even if you were a journalist or lobbyist and had the time to rummage through the documents. As a practical matter, transparency was limited. Now the information is all online where any citizen can get to it 24/7. Let the sun shine in, baby, let the sun shine in.

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4 responses to “Let the Sun Shine In!”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    That’s fine as far as lobbying goes. Now what about actual government expenditures?


  2. The “Statement of Economic Interests” tab is fantastic.

    I’d like to see openness on government spending too, but this is a great move in the right direction.

  3. Folks – Please be advised that VPAP .. the existence of it… depends on people supporting it financially…

    If you think this information is important – consider doing your part to help..

    their website makes it very easy AND you get to give the money to VPAP instead of Uncle Sam (tax deductible):


  4. I’m looking –


    and I still don’t see any of youse guys names….on the donor list…

    what’s up with that?

    don’t ya’ll want to make sure that VPAP has enough funding to continue their work?

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