Sunlight: The Empire Edition

This could be interesting.

Former public advocate candidate Andrew Rasiej, who now works for the Sunlight Foundation , is planning to launch a muckraking project in January focusing on lawmakers in New York.

The idea of their mission is to take hard-to-access public information about lawmakers and the legislative process, make it digitally available online, and then let the public have at it. Then, said Rasiej, a technology advisor to the group, “you have an opportunity to match that data with citizen journalists, activists, investigative reporters and others, giving them an opportunity to connect the dots, mesh the data and create a new power center in American politics.”

Albany, needless to say, is simply swimming in dots just waiting to be connected.

Nationally, the Sunlight group has been getting attention by urging members of Congress to post their daily schedules online, detailing exactly who they met and how they spent their day — one of the ideas Rasiej advocated during his first and only run for office.

Newly elected Representative Kirsten Gillibrand was one of the first to have taken the group’s pledge, drawing praise from the editorial board of the Times.

Sunlight also had a notable hit after engineering a mash-up of Google Maps and Congressional transportation earmarks to reveal that House Speaker Dennis Hastert appropriated funds for a highway project near property he partly owned.

In New York, Sunlight has provided moneyto the Room Eight blog to amp up its watchdog-reporting capabilities.

And a policy aide who worked on Rasiej’s bid for public advocate went to work this year on Andrew Cuomo’s attorney general campaign, which, not coincidentally, rolled out Sunlight Project-inspired plan to make more information about lobbying, legislation and fund-raising available online.

— Azi Paybarah Sunlight: The Empire Edition