Mashup Probes White House Visitors

Less than a week after the White House began releasing visitor logs on a regular basis, watchdog groups already are linking the names of people doing business there to campaign finance stats online for all to see.

Less than a week after the White House began releasing visitor logs on a regular basis, watchdog groups already are linking the names of people doing business there to campaign finance stats online for all to see.

Sunlight Labs, a division of the transparency group, the Sunlight Foundation, created a Web application to help researchers examine who is meeting at the White House. This administration is the first to post visitor records on the Web in formats that can be analyzed by machines -- albeit with a three month delay and some editing.

The mashup -- an application that combines data to find patterns of behavior, relationships and causes -- draws on data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The tool shows whether visitors have given campaign contributions on the national or state level. To give users more background on the individuals, the tool provides links to the people's profiles on LittleSis.org, a database listing the connections between powerful people and organizations, and their Google and Wikipedia search results.

On Dec. 30, WhiteHouse.gov disclosed more than 25,000 records, the accounts of visitors between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30. Records will continue to be posted on a monthly basis, with the logs for the full month of October appearing at the end of January.

The administration is still reviewing "a small set" of the September logs to make sure their disclosure does not compromise national security, said Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, writing on the White House blog. Any additional September records would be released in the forthcoming October batch.

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