Data / Federal government / Politics

FiscalNote continues to level the playing field in politics, or does it?

A new profile in the MIT Technology Review goes deep on the growing startup's impact on K Street culture.

FiscalNote CEO Tim Hwang speaks at the 2016 RISE Conference. (Photo by Flickr user RISE, used under a Creative Commons license)

Since 2015 FiscalNote, a legislation tracking platform, has sought to democratize lobbying in Washington, D.C. Now a new article in MIT Technology Review (written by alum Andrew Zaleski) calls into question the impact of the growing startup on K Street culture.

“It optimizes certain information for people who can afford it,” Georgetown University’s Lorelei Kelly told  the magazine. “But the cost for participating in democracy should be zero. So unless something like this is available to citizens, it’s not democratic.”

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Though it seems like FiscalNote is equalizing access to political data, some D.C. politicians and experts don’t necessarily agree that the data platform is doing its job. Tim LaPira, the creator of who now teaches at James Madison University, criticized FiscalNote for putting more information in the hands of the privileged. For his part, writes Zaleski, FiscalNote founder Tim Hwang’s vision is that “even the smallest voices will be able to be heard over the din of the political class.”

Despite the criticism, FiscalNote continues to expand. Last month, the data platform announced plans to acquire publisher CQ Roll Call from The Economist Group by the end of 2018. Also last month, using data it has collected, FiscalNote released a report of the “20 Most Productive State Legislators.”

Companies: FiscalNote

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