Chicago Lobbyists is an opengov project that visualizes all lobbyists interactions/activities with the City of Chicago in 2010. Each lobbyist has a profile (example:
) listing all their clients, how much they were paid, what they charged as expenses, and what actions they sought in front of city agencies (City Council, Community Development, etc).
Every company or organization that hired lobbyists (we call them clients) has a profile showing the lobbyists they hired, the actions they hired them to make, and the amount they paid them. Interestingly, the Salvation Army
is the number one spender on lobbyists for 2010 at $380,000. All of their money was spent on just 2 lobbyists, and they look to mostly be regarding zoning and land transfer.
Every city agency also has a page summarizing lobbyists' activities regarding them. Not surprisingly, City Council
is the most lobbied agency with 152 lobbyists seeking a total of 587 lobbying actions on a wide range of subjects.
More info on how it works and how we built it
One of the most exciting parts about this project has been our interaction with the city of Chicago (specifically the CDO Brett Goldstein). After making a rough version of Chicago Lobbyists in late July, we found that a lot of lobbying data was missing from the datasets the city had published
. We met with Brett and his staff, explained what was missing, and by the end of August, they had updated their data with the pieces that were missing. We then took that new data and updated our site accordingly. With it, we are now able to tie clients to specific lobbying actions and show how much clients paid each lobbyist. More on this on our blog: An Open Data Story
and Chicago Lobbyists V2 Is Here
We just submitted Chicago Lobbyists to the Apps for Metro Chicago
Grand Challenge. The winners will be announced on Dec 16th.
This is probably the biggest, most impactful project I've worked on to date (the others I have
posted on MeFi Projects as well) . It has a huge potential to inform and change people's perception of government and lobbyists, and best of all, the city is cooperating with us do it.