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New Web Project Simplifies City's Open Lobbying Data

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 7, 2011 5:00PM

Chicago Lobbyists is a web project by a group of open government enthusiasts that takes the lobbyist data from the City's Open Data Portal and fashions it into nice, easy-to-follow charts without having to search the portal.

Derek Eder, one of the members of the project, told Chicagoist each lobbyist has a profile page — e.g. Ronald Johnson — that lists all their clients, how much they were paid, what they charged as expenses, and what actions they sought in front of city agencies.

Every city agency has an individual page that summarizes the activities of lobbyists approaching them. City Council, natch, was the most lobbied agency last year, with 152 lobbyists seeking 587 lobbying actions on a range of subjects.

Eder said one of the most exciting aspects of the project was interacting with the city on it, particularly Chief Data Officer 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," Eder wrote via email. "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."

Eder and his partners submitted Chicago Lobbyists in the Apps for Metro Chicago Grand Challenge. Voting closes on Dec. 12 with the winners announced Dec. 16.