Non-profit

Center for Responsive Politics

Logo for the nonprofit organization Center for Responsive Politics (link)
Website:

www.opensecrets.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-1275227

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $2,817,503
Expenses: $2,117,097
Assets: $3,531,389

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) is a self-claimed nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded with the intention of tracking money in politics. [1] The CRP was founded in 1983 by former U.S. Senators Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, a centrist Rockefeller Republican. [2]

The Center for Responsive Politics is perhaps best known for its website, OpenSecrets, in which it compiles political financial data to include campaign contribution profiles of members of Congress, a lobbying database, and financial information related to Congressional committees.

The CRP has been critical of expanded political advocacy rights since the Citizens United ruling and has been criticized for contributing to “stifling the free speech of those who want to give to political causes.” [3]

Background

At its start, CRP tracked money in politics by analyzing contributions from political action committees (PACs) to congressional candidates and by compiling data and publishing large reports. [4] In 1990, the CRP published the first OpenSecrets book that documented and analyzed congressional political contributions in the 1988 elections. [5] In addition to analyzing political contributions from PACs, the book also reported on the spending patterns of interest groups and companies within major industries. [6]

OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics’ flagship website, went online following the 1996 elections. [7] The website began to evolve by producing online contribution profiles prior to Election Day for federal candidates in the 1998 elections. [8]

Criticism

While the CRP labels itself as a “nonpartisan” organization, it publishes left-wing campaign finance advocacy on its website and criticizes what it considers to be “dark money” and campaign finance laws under the Citizens United ruling. [9]

Some conservative and free-market groups worry that CRP’s negative portrayal of political contributions can “stifle the free speech of those who want to give to political causes, but fear personal and professional attacks if their preferences become public.” [10]

OpenSecrets.org

Today, OpenSecrets includes not only contribution profiles for members of Congress, but also information on their personal finances,[11] money spent on their campaigns by joint fundraising committees,[12] and a lobbying database,[13] to name a few features. OpenSecrets concentrates most of its data within two categories: Politicians and Elections, and Influence and Lobbying.

Politicians & Elections

OpenSecrets aggregates political contributions from campaign committees, outside groups, lobbyists, and Super PACs to candidates in Presidential and Congressional races. In addition, OpenSecrets amasses the financial information and disclosures for the Trump administration. [14] Financial summaries for political parties and party committees are also included on the site and display the contributions made to the party, the recipients of the party’s expenditures, and a geographic analysis of expenditures. [15] OpenSecrets also publishes an election overview online that includes general trends from elections, the most expensive races, and top donors. Election overviews are available online for all federal elections dating back to 1990. [16]

Influence & Lobbying

OpenSecrets also provides data on spending by numerous interest groups. The site provides data by sector and issue type for all elections since 1990. [17] In addition, OpenSecrets includes an all-encompassing lobbying database that aggregates data on top lobbyists and top lobbying firms, as well as data on specific bills that lobbyists reported lobbying on. [18]

In addition to political finance data collections, OpenSecrets also maintains an independent news platform called OpenSecrets News[19] and also publishes independent reports. [20] Additionally, the CRP’s OpenData initiative allows for the non-commercial use of CRP’s archive of money-in-politics data. [21]

People

Founders

The CRP was founded in 1983 by then-Senators Frank Church and Hugh Scott. Senator Church was a Democratic Senator from Idaho who served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years. [22] Senator Scott was a moderate Republican politician from Pennsylvania who served in both the U.S House and U.S. Senate. [23]

Directors

Sheila Krumholz has been the Executive Director of the CRP since 2006. Before becoming the Executive Director, she served as the CRP’s research director and as an assistant editor. [24]

CRP’s Development Director, Jennifer Barrett, joined CRP in 2017. Her previous experience includes working on Rep. Millicent Fenwick’s (R-N.J.) staff and also working as a fundraiser for the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum. She also worked for the liberal magazines The New Republic and The Washington Monthly and a Russian newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta [25]

Board Members

John Coyle became the Chair of CRP’s Board of Directors in Fall 2018 after serving as the board’s Vice Chair. [26] Coyle is the Managing Director of Navellier & Associates, an investment management company. [27] Coyle’s previously worked at Congressional Quarterly, a publishing company that primarily produces publications relating to the United States Congress. [28]

Nick Penniman, a member of CRP’s Board of Directors,[29] is the founder and CEO of Issue One, a left-of-center organization that that seeks to restrict lobbying and election-related speech activity. Prior, Penniman was the founder and executive director of the left-leaning Huffington Post Investigative Fund and an associate editor of American Prospect, a left-of-center magazine. [30]

Funding

According to recent Form 990 filings, the CRP claimed more than $2.8 million in total revenue and more than $2.1 million in total expenses in 2016. [31]

Since January 2017, the CRP has received funding of more than $100,000 from numerous left-of-center organizations including Democracy Fund, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. [32]

References

  1. “Our Vision and Mission.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/. ^
  2. “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  3. Spencer, Jim. “Minnesota Native Keeps Tabs on Money in Politics.” Star Tribune. September 14, 2013. Accessed December 05, 2018. http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-native-keeps-tabs-on-money-in-politics/223679551/. ^
  4. “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  5. [1] “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  6. “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  7. “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  8. “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  9. “OpenSecrets.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 20, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/. ^
  10. Spencer, Jim. “Minnesota Native Keeps Tabs on Money in Politics.” Star Tribune. September 14, 2013. Accessed December 05, 2018. http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-native-keeps-tabs-on-money-in-politics/223679551/. ^
  11. “Personal Finances.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/personal-finances/. ^
  12. “Politicians & Elections Overview.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 03, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/elections/. ^
  13. “Lobbying Database.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/. ^
  14. “Trump Administration.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 03, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/trump. ^
  15. “Political Parties Overview.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 09, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/parties/. ^
  16. “2018 Election Overview.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 09, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/. ^
  17. “Interest Groups.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 09, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/. ^
  18. “Lobbying.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 09, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php. ^
  19. “OpenSecrets News.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 6, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/. ^
  20. “Reports.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/reports/. ^
  21. “About the Site.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/tour.php. ^
  22. “Church, Frank Forrester.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed December 03, 2018. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=c000388. ^
  23. “Scott, Hugh Doggett, Jr.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed December 03, 2018. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000174 ^
  24. “Our Team.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/staff.php. ^
  25. “Our Team.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed November 19, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/staff.php. ^
  26. “CRP Board of Directors Names New Officers, Expanding National Impact.” OpenSecrets.org. November 09, 2018. Accessed December 03, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/11/crp-new-board-of-directors-18/. ^
  27. “Key Personnel.” Navellier. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://navellier.com/get-to-know-us/key-personnel/. ^
  28. “Key Personnel.” Navellier. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://navellier.com/get-to-know-us/key-personnel/. ^
  29. “Board of Directors.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 03, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/board.php. ^
  30. “Issue One – Nick Penniman.” Issue One – Fix Democracy First. Accessed December 04, 2018. https://www.issueone.org/staff/nick-penniman/. ^
  31. Center For Responsive Politics, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/pdfs/CRP_990_2016.pdf/ ^
  32. “Funders.” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed December 07, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/about/funders.php. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1983

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,817,503 $2,117,097 $3,531,389 $124,178 N $2,676,260 $115,758 $23,770 $166,496
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,004,812 $1,802,335 $2,809,907 $84,391 N $1,907,475 $74,706 $12,365 $160,180 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,503,739 $1,685,101 $2,605,379 $82,340 N $1,294,038 $186,785 $12,491 $152,172
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,726,112 $1,414,376 $2,780,291 $75,890 N $1,564,901 $139,704 $14,872 $147,389 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,923,378 $1,273,029 $2,468,851 $76,186 N $1,120,043 $784,047 $10,218 $146,911 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,446,658 $1,263,832 $1,802,834 $60,518 N $682,289 $750,874 $6,921 $147,226 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $444,575 $1,221,502 $1,719,701 $160,211 N $163,835 $270,664 $9,231 $147,081 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Center for Responsive Politics

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