August 19, 2010

Wisconsin InfoLink: Be the watchdog


Wisconsin InfoLink is an almanac of Wisconsin facts and resources compiled by Ron Larson. Each week on the WisconsinWatch blog, Larson introduces us to some of these gems.

To say people are skeptical about government these days is a bit of an understatement. Lack of trust in government officials and procedures is quite high these days, both at the state and federal levels. Wisconsin InfoLink has a few links that will help you keep an eye on the political scene in Wisconsin.

Even though it is a Wisconsin government site and you might not trust the government keeping an eye on itself, the Government Accountability Board is a good place to start to keep tabs on the Wisconsin political ethics, lobbying laws, campaign finance and elections. With the statewide campaigns for various offices heating up, the GAB website is a good place to check now and then.

Resource: Wisconsin Infolink: Government/Public Watchdog > Government Accountability Board

The GAB website is full of useful information about Wisconsin politics. For starters, take a look at the “Calendar” link on the left side of the page. Here you will find a day-by-day listing of events on GAB, election and lobbying information. Click on the individual calendar items for more information.

On the main page you’ll also find voter public access, where you can check your voter registration status and find out where to vote; Statements of Economic Interests, an online index of candidates’ and public officials’ financial interests such as employers, investments, real estate and creditors (unfortunately, this site seems a bit slow on updating its information and obtaining the actual forms from GAB isn’t possible online); and the Eye on Lobbying Database. There’s a link to the latter on Wisconsin InfoLink’s Government/Public Watchdog section if you forget how to get there.

You can use the lobbying database to research registered lobbyists and how to contact them, and what topics are being lobbied. Or you can search by keywords for a specific topic that was lobbied for during the last legislative session.

For more information on the various 2010 campaigns, Wisconsin InfoLink also lists the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign as a good site to gather useful and pertinent information.

Resource: Wisconsin InfoLink: Government/Public Watchdog > Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The nonpartisan watchdog group states on its website that it’s “working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.”

This site includes a searchable database of campaign contributors to Wisconsin candidates; Campaign 2010, which includes financial data for the various state candidates; and other links that will help you to follow the money.

  • Good review. Its a pity there are not more websites like this out there keeping an eye on the politicians.