May 26th, 2010
11:02 AM ET
11 years ago

House Republicans' website raises questions

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/26/art.asowebsite.aso.jpg
caption =" A new interactive website geared towards collecting ideas to shape the GOP Congressional agenda drew questions Wednesday about the funding used to pay for it."]
Washington (CNN) - When House Republican leaders unveiled their new interactive website, geared towards collecting ideas to shape the GOP Congressional agenda, reporters quickly raised questions about why the site was paid for with tax payer funds when it seemed to be more geared towards upcoming elections.

AmericaSpeakingOut.com is an innovative website sponsored by the House Republican Leadership. People can submit ideas, comment on other people's ideas and vote ideas up and down. It is also highly integrated into the social networks Facebook and Twitter and will soon be available on mobile devices and apps. A point system also adds a sense of competition, awarding badges and encouraging participation.

House GOP Leader John Boehner opened the press conference on Tuesday seemingly with the tone of a campaign. "All across America, Americans are speaking out, but unfortunately they don't see Washington Democrats listening," Boehner said. "The purpose of this project is to give the American people a megaphone to speak out by using the best technology available."

While all ideas are allowed to be posted, the GOP said the conversation is occurring in the context of Republican principles. "What we are asking the American people to do is to participate with us as to how do we apply those principles to tomorrow and the day after," Boehner explained.

Early press about the site noted that it seemed to be the first step in the GOP building a new "Contract With America," which was used to successfully take back Congress in 1994. But AmericaSpeakingOut.com is paid for by tax payer money. Still, Boehner denied the website is being used for the upcoming midterm elections . "I would expect that ideas that come out of this website and the involvement of the members will lead to ideas that we can attempt to implement today," he said.

When asked for a response to the site, Katie Grant, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, was hesitant to comment directly about the new Republican initiative. "Republican opposition to every job creation measure and Wall Street reform shows that their agenda is to stand up for big banks, insurance and oil companies and against helping the middle-class and small businesses" wrote Grant in an e-mail to CNN. "That's not what Americans want, and if Republicans had been listening to the American people before now, they would know that."

Jake Brewer, the engagement director for the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, told CNN he believes that while the website is a great first step in transparency, it has yet to be seen how it will actually work and influence policy.

"It is a positive thing anytime you create a new listening tool in government," Brewer said, whose organization is dedicated towards transparency and accountability in government. "What remains to be seen is how much listening is actually done."

AmericaSpeakingOut.com is also a ".com" and not ".gov," the usual ending to a government website. Republicans say the technology was just not there in the House for a .gov. The site's platform was designed by Microsoft and is similar to a website they built for NASA. House leaders claim the site does not cost more than other congressional websites and the funds came from the congressional Republican budget.

If there is a concern about AmericaSpeakingOut.com, it would be taken up with the Committee on House Administration. Committee spokesman Kyle Anderson told CNN, "Any complaints regarding content, ethical concerns or other violations will be reviewed through the appropriate process."

Despite the questions, internet enthusiasts believe the site is a step in the right direction. "It's a promising first step to bringing participatory technology to Congress," said Greg Ferenstein, a Fellow at the University of California Center for the Study of Democracy and a contributor for the leading social media blog Mashable. "This is the first time I've seen the GOP trailblaze on the internet."


Filed under: GOP • House
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. dnick47

    More GOPer lies and cheats... the Party Of No is limitless when its comes to developing and implementing shady and illicit practices... this is one more example!

    May 26, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. neonmadman

    I can't wait for the website to come up. It's an opportunity for all people who feel stymied by the party of no to let them know how WE feel. I encourage all of those who are against the right wing obstructionists to flood the site with your opinions. After all we are paying for it.

    May 26, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. Jim

    I certainly hope that my tax dollars were not spent on this. While I like to think of myself as a moderate, I still don't want my tax money paying for republican support.

    May 26, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Bonehead Boehner and his gang of obstructionists just don't get it. We want our leaders to have solutions of their own. This last year and a half, republicans have offered no new ideas and now all of a sudden they want the public's opinion?!?! They should have though of that last year. I guess it's convenient now since it's an election year. We don't want a "new" contratc for America. We decided about that 11/4/08 and republicans lost.

    May 26, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    I was a member of the Republican Party starting at age 18 and quit at age 50 after being ignored for all those years.
    I'm now a proud independent with Libertarian leanings.
    Neither party wants to know what the people what, nor do they care about our constitutional rights, they already know what is best for us, they just want to know how to sell that to us better for our votes. Both parties have for decade after decade promised us one thing and once elected done the opposite.
    As long as the gravy train of endless billions of dollars continue to flow into these two parties from outside influences they could care less about the people.

    May 26, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Video Guy

    I checked the site out, I will not give them my internet information. I do not what Republican crap email sent to me.

    May 26, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. sonny chapman

    Republicans doing something less than noble ? Sir,these are HONORABLE people; just ask them.

    May 26, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. Sgt. USMC

    It's paid for by tax payer money because the repubs are broke. No fiscal responsibility. LOSERS

    May 26, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. The Clear Thinking Independent

    If I tell you what to do ... If I am the source of the ideas that move the country forward ... WHY DO I NEED YOU, Mr. Republican?

    Don't you have the ability to come up with ideas on your own instead of co-opting mine?

    Wouldn't it be better for you to tell me, as a potential leader, what your approach is to address specific problems and then let me critique and fine tune those approaches?

    I want to hear the GOP tell me what business is accountable for and exactly how the GOP will use government to assure that accountability.

    Too often the GOP only defends business giving the impression that business is always right and never does anything wrong. No one is perfect ... so again ... tell me exactly how business is working against the interests of the American people?

    May 26, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Jon

    I don't understand how tax payer money can go to the GOP's campaign efforts. This seems incredibly unethical to me, but then again I shouldn't be surprised.

    May 26, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Donnatella

    This is the party that is suppose to be fiscally conservative, yea right ,they have already mis-handled enough money this year, what will it take for the idiots to realize that they have their own agenda, they will not stop spending, it will just be on different things.

    May 26, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    From day one when President Obama took office the Republicans have always declared they know what the people want. It's time for the GOP to speak up and explain to everyone, not just Republicans, I mean everyone exactly what they meant by that before they start using this website. We need answers, there's a lot wrong with this.

    May 26, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. AzMom

    I don't know if it's typical government or typical Microsoft but the site doesn't work very well. If they're going to spend taxpayer money on useless propaganda then at least make sure it works.

    May 26, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Mark Ferbet, KCMO

    As an American, who is not a Republican, but an Independent, this looks like a Campaign Strategy. A Campaign Device. It's designed so that only those that Agree with the Republican line of thinking will probably be heard.

    I say if its using tax dollars to be implemented, then it should be shut down, or at the very least, make sure it's funded by the RNC, and make sure the RNC pays back the American Tax Payers for any funds used out of tax payer dollars to start this site.

    May 26, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. Fed Up

    Oops. They forgot only Dems can use public funds for campaigns.

    May 26, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. dan

    Now it only goes to prove that Rasmussen poll is so full of it,because no other poll shows the Democrats or Obama losing that badly,Rasmussen is really playing to the conservative base,i hear his poll in the Penn Senate race will come out today showing Tomey leading by 13%,a few days ago he had Tomey losing by 4%,this is ridicoulous,the Democrats needs to call this guy out,his poll will also show Forina leading Boxer by 15% today,now how can that be when Forina is for the ARZ law,this guy is trying to under poll Democrats so badly that other polls will show Democrats losing as well.its funny how Rasmussen stop polling 2 weeks before an election.this guy is doing what Foxnews in the Gop wants him to do,Foxnews in the Gop was caught off guard when Penn-12 went so sodily for the Democrats,after that happened Rasmussen has been under polling Democrats so badly,lastweek Rasmmussen said on Foxnews he dont poll House races,but yesterday he was polling the House race in Idaho i think, what a liar this guy is

    May 26, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. wag the dog

    I went on the site-very right-winged agenda. I DO NOT want my tax dollars going towards this propaganda-it does not give American people a voice, it gives the repubs a voice at the tax payers expense.The party of 'no' should shut this down or pay for it with your money. The repubs can come up with a tax-paid web-site but they can't come up with any ideas. Please for the love of American tax-payers-take this site down!!

    May 26, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. Florida Joe

    Of course they put up a site asking for ideas...........THEY HAVE NONE OF THEIR OWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 26, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Please

    why are they wasting our tax dollars for this crap? The CEOs already have the the Repubs direct line...way to waste our money

    May 26, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. IKHAN

    Not a penny of tax payers money should go towards such self serving spending sprees.

    May 26, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. key

    Conservative in voice only that's what troubles me behind this so call movement. Government does over reach sometimes but this is on both sides. And politicians should be m

    May 26, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    Just more lies, fear mongering and half truths from the GOP. The American people already know their plan, no, no and no. These people were sent to DC to get something done, not to sit on their hands. Any horses ass could do that, oh wait, they are.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    May 26, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  23. NadineCA

    So when I want to post the question "Why are you Republicans such racist hypocrits", do you think they'll answer truthfully or even let the post exist? Nah. I don't think you'll see any of those true questions get posted.

    May 26, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. Dano

    We'll start by voting you and your "party of NO" out of office this November, Mr. Boehner. Then we'll go about fixing the mess you and your corporate cronies have caused.

    May 26, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. Molly Weasley

    Is there anyone more hypocritical than Rethugs? They're using taxpayer money for a fall campaign move and they think no one is going to notice? And that they can explain their way out of it?

    The GOP is beyond shameless.

    May 26, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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