“Open Secrets” Democratic Accountability Organization Announces Merger

OpenSecrets, merges the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics (NIMP),
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Photos: OpenSecrets

WASHINGTON, JUNE 2, 2021 — The nation’s two leading money-in-politics data organizations have joined forces to help Americans hold their leaders accountable at the federal and state levels, they said Wednesday.

The combined organization, OpenSecrets, merges the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics (NIMP), each leading entities for three decades. The merger will provide a new one-stop shop for integrated federal, state and local data on campaign finance, lobbying and more, that is both unprecedented and easy to use.

“This merger brings together decades of expertise, massive data sets, and the kind of analysis that researchers, journalists, advocates and individuals rely on to understand the influence of spending on politics,” said OpenSecrets Executive Director Sheila Krumholz, who previously led CRP. “At a time when our country is being tested, this is a good day for democracy.”

For nearly 40 years, CRP has made best-in-class data and analysis about spending in federal races available to those seeking to unveil and analyze political influence. NIMP has provided similar gold-standard data and analysis for state politics. Now their work will be combined to provide an unparalleled window on money in American politics.

“Transparency fuels the accountability that’s necessary to ensure the healthy evolution of our fragile democracy,” said OpenSecrets Executive Advisor Edwin Bender, who previously led NIMP. “Combining our work into a singularly robust and comprehensive tool will be invaluable for helping all of us take the measure of who our elected officials truly represent.”

The new OpenSecrets tools and analysis are expected to be especially beneficial to reporters covering statehouse politics, as media consolidation and declining news revenues have cut resources to cover state offices.

The new OpenSecrets website will debut later in 2021. The current URL for CRP (OpenSecrets.org) will be retained and the NIMP website at followthemoney.org will continue to be updated until the new site is launched.

The array of benefits for journalists, researchers, activists and engaged members of the public includes:

  • New tools that will let users track and analyze how donors, lobbyists and other forces work to wield influence across federal and state lines.
  • A concise integrated data-set that encompasses wide-ranging information in one, easily accessible location.
  • Resources for anyone looking to present a broader perspective on the wide-ranging career of a politician, lobbyist or revolver.
  • Databases that incorporate racial and gender information, putting analyses of these important aspects of democratic representation just a mouse-click away.
  • A continuation of CRP’s stellar reporting section, now incorporating stories focused on state-level and local data.

A combined response team, ready to answer any question a user may have on federal, state and local data. In the months ahead, OpenSecrets will provide CRP and NIMP users with previews of the new data and capabilities, as well as trainings on how to make the most of the new tools and analysis.

Critical support for the merger review and organizational integration process was provided by the Hewlett Foundation.

Here is what some people are saying about the merger.

“The Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics have long provided critical infrastructure for democracy in the United States by enabling citizens, journalists, academic researchers, and transparency and accountability watchdogs to track how money and influence are flowing in American politics. The Hewlett Foundation has supported both organizations as they have made this critical contribution over the past eight years, from the outset of our work to strengthen U.S. Democracy. We are thus all the more pleased to underwrite their joining forces now in OpenSecrets. The foresight and wisdom of the leadership and governing boards of both organizations in seizing the moment to take this step and doing so in a well-planned way that will make the new whole even more valuable than the sum of the parts are exemplary and inspiring.” —Daniel Stid, Director, U.S. Democracy Program, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

“When we talk about journalism as a pillar of democracy, the public service these two organizations provide is one of the strongest examples. They remove barriers to public information and provide reporting on our political system that is vital for voters, but hard for people to access. By joining forces, their reporting will have even more impact and support greater participation in our democracy. These combined newsrooms have an especially broad impact because their work is shared and used by tens of thousands of journalists a year. They are vital to our local news coverage as well as national reporting.” —Sue Cross, Executive Director and CEO, Institute for Nonprofit News, a network of more than 300 nonprofit, nonpartisan news organizations.

“Both entities have years of providing the public with crucial information about money in politics and now OpenSecrets will provide a one stop shop for granular campaign finance data which will help foster well-informed citizens. OpenSecrets will also be invaluable for academics in the fields of election law and political science.” —Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Professor of Law, Stetson University

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