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Political Research Databases, Research and Reference -

Liberty Chick has compiled a great list of reference and research links. She has really done it up right.

I know many of us like to drill down into the story behind the headlines. This database of links will become indispensable as you look behind the political curtain.

The bulk of the reference sites are listed below so that you can begin your quest today. I have placed a link to these sites on my sidebar under “Reference”


Research Databases


sunlight-foundationThe Sunlight Foundation

Transparency has a Posse! Their list of “insanely useful websites” lives up to its name.  Includes links to the following databases, many of which are among my own favorites and I may have also listed in other sections of this website:

If you’re looking to dig up anything in politics and shine some sunlight on it, this is a fantastic place to start. They know how to do research right.

CIRThe Center for Investigative Reporting

Founded in 1977, the Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation’s oldest nonprofit investigative news organization, producing multimedia reporting that has impact and is relevant to people’s lives. Building on their long track record of award-winning print, broadcast and web reporting, CIR is now seeking to help lead the way in transforming journalism for the 21st century.

To get a sampling of their work, take look at this great visual chart they did on “SEIU Money and Influence“.

DTNDiscover the Networks

A Guide to the Political Left. Launched in 2005 by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is the largest publicly accessible database defining the chief groups and individuals of the Left and their organizational interlocks – an online encyclopedia of the political left and its intricate interconnections.  DTN is a model for understanding how the left operates in our society, and how the networks it has created have penetrated our philanthropic, educational, and religious institutions.

(Another of my personal favorites!)
Muckety is an online tool for mapping relations and measuring influence. Published by Muckety LLC, a company founded in 2006 by a team with years of experience in journalism, technology and online publishing. The name Muckety derives, of course, from muckety mucks. Some follow the money. We follow the muckety, producing a daily news and information site based on online databases (which we enlarge daily), extensive research and old-fashioned journalism.

Have you ever wanted to find more information on government spending? Have you ever wondered where Federal contracting dollars and grant awards go? Or perhaps you would just like to know, as a citizen, what the Government is really doing with your money. USAspending provides a searchable database of contracts and awards by entity name and location, award amount, and transaction type.

See also its partner site, for grants, loans, insurance, subsidies and direct payments. is your nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy. Whether you’re a voter, journalist, activist, student or interested citizen, use our free site to shine light on your government. Count cash and make change.


SourceWatch is your guide to the names behind the news. SourceWatch is a collaborative project of the Center for Media and Democracy to produce a directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. A primary purpose of SourceWatch is documenting the PR and propaganda activities of public relations firms and public relations professionals engaged in managing and manipulating public perception, opinion and policy.

NOTE: Use this source cautiously. While they claim to be non-partisan, much if not all of their information describing grassroots liberty-minded groups like The 912 Project and many of the Tea Party groups is inaccurate or misleading.  In challenging their content in these cases, editors responded with source materials that they claim back up the content entries; however, those source materials themselves are representative only of the typical mainstream (or fringe) media’s anti-conservative viewpoints, which are highly partisan and often entirely inaccurate, as we know.

usdolUS Department of Labor

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration administers and enforces most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The LMRDA was enacted primarily to ensure basic standards of democracy and fiscal responsibility in labor organizations representing employees in private industry.  Search public disclosure database for union/payee information.

irsIRS Search for Charities, Non-Profits and Other Organizations

Publication 78, Cumulative List of Organizations described in Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, is a list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. This online version is offered to help you conduct a more efficient search of these organizations.


I used to work for this company, so I of course recommend it!  Arguably the largest database collection of news, company, legal and public records sources, LexisNexis is probably the best research tool out there. Of course, that greatness comes at a cost – but if you don’t have a subscription to the service, you can purchase either Pay As You Go packages, or a LexisNexis by Credit Card menu (just sign up and use your credit card). This allows for flexibility by the document, day, week or month. Searching is free, you only pay if you want to get the details on any of the results.


If you need to find people, I like to use Intelius. Easy to use, up to date, inexpensive (Pay As You Go option). Gives you addresses and contact information, background checks, and more. And no, the system doesn’t notify the person for whom you’re searching that you’re looking up their info! Yes, it’s legal, as long as you are using it for legitimate purposes (i.e. to verify someone is who they say they are, or are a resident of the state they claim, etc.) and not for…say…stalking, or revenge, or slander…

domaintoolsDomain Tools

Need to lookup an IP address? How about a domain name? Need to know who registered a particular website or email address?  Domain Tools has several lookup methods to help in your search.




The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights
The Ayn Rand Center (ARC) is the public policy and outreach division of the Ayn Rand Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Center’s mission is to advance individual rights (the rights of each person to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness) as the moral basis for a fully free, laissez-faire capitalist society. ARC is named after author and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982), who is best known for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for her original philosophy Objectivism.

The Cato Institute
The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane. It is a non-profit public policy research foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Institute is named for Cato’s Letters, a series of libertarian pamphlets that helped lay the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.

Brookings Institution
The research agenda and recommendations of Brookings’s experts are rooted in open-minded inquiry and our scholars represent diverse points of view. More than 200 resident and nonresident fellows research issues; write books, papers, articles and opinion pieces; testify before congressional committees and participate in dozens of public events each year.

The Centre for Independent Studies
The leading independent public policy ‘think tank’ within Australasia. The CIS is actively engaged in support of a free enterprise economy and a free society under limited government where individuals can prosper and fully develop their talents. By critical recommendations to public policy and encouraging debate amongst leading academics, politicians and journalists, the CIS aims to build a better society.

The Constitution Project
The Constitution Project seeks consensus solutions to difficult legal and constitutional issues. It does this through constructive dialogue across ideological and partisan lines, and through scholarship, activism, and public education efforts.

Dubbed “an authoritative commentator on the Middle East,” by the Wall Street Journal and “years ahead of the curve in identifying the threat of radical Islam” by CBS Sunday Morning, Daniel Pipes’ site is one of the most accessed internet sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Islam.  Pipes is also director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. His bi-weekly column appears regularly in the Jerusalem Post and other newspapers around the globe.

The Heartland Institute

Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies. The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit research and education organization, tax exempt under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and founded in Chicago in 1984. It is not affiliated with any political party, business, or foundation.

The Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with more than 410,000 individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 244 and an expense budget of $61 million. Their mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

Institute for Policy Innovation

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy “think tank” based in Lewisville, Texas and founded in 1987 by Congressman Dick Armey to research, develop and promote innovative and non-partisan solutions to today’s public policy problems. IPI’s focus is on approaches to governing that harness the strengths of individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. IPI emphasizes getting its studies into the hands of the press and policy makers so that the ideas they contain can be applied to the challenges facing us today.

The Manhattan Institute
For 30 years, the Manhattan Institute has been an important force in shaping American political culture and developing ideas that foster economic choice and individual responsibility. We have supported and publicized research on our era’s most challenging public policy issues: taxes, health care, energy, the legal system, policing, crime, homeland security, urban life, education, race, culture, and many others. Our work has won new respect for market-oriented policies and helped make reform a reality.

The National Review

“America’s most widely read and influential magazine and web site for Republican/conservative news, commentary, and opinion”, the National Review is usually considered the center of intellectual activity for the American Conservative movement in the twentieth century. The National Review Online (NRO) is a digital version of the print publication, which features articles updated daily by National Review writers, and a number of conservative blogs, including:

Opinion Journal | The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal Opinion & Commentary on Political Topics, the Economy, Social Issues, Government Politics & Policies, News & US Politics.

RAND Corporation
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. For 60 years, decisionmakers in the public and private sectors have turned to the RAND Corporation for objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the nation and the world. These challenges include such critical social and economic issues as education, poverty, crime, and the environment, as well as a range of national security issues.

Reason Foundation
Founded in 1968, Reason Foundation is a nonprofit organization advancing “free minds and free markets.” Reason Foundation advances a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law. Reason Foundation produces respected public policy research on a variety of issues and publishes the critically acclaimed Reason magazine. Together, our top-tier think tank and political and cultural magazine reach a diverse, influential audience, advancing the values of choice, individual freedom and limited government.

The Urban Institute
The Urban Institute gathers data, conducts research, evaluates programs, offers technical assistance overseas, and educates Americans on social and economic issues — to foster sound public policy and effective government.

The Weekly Standard

Hailed by prominent publishers as “the preeminent political journal in America” and “a forceful presence in the world of political opinion”, the Weekly Standard is a conservative American opinion magazine that covers all the important issues in Washington, D.C.  Editors are Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes.

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