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Senate lobbying data revamp causing problems for data watchdogs

Links to old documents broken for the moment

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 Updated:

A weekend revamp of the U.S. Senate Lobbying Disclose Act database has caused previosly active hyperlinks to hundreds of thousands of lobbying disclosure documents to stop functioning.

Users attempting to access old versions of federal lobbying documents, such as client registrations and quarterly disclosures, receive an error message that reads, "We're sorry, that filing cannot be displayed."

Most notably affected are third-party watchdog websites such as OpenSecrets.org that compile and analyze lobbying data and, at the moment, still link to old versions of primary source lobbying documents.  

Most lobbying documents appear to be displaying correctly when searching directly through the U.S. Senate database

A Senate Office of Public Records office wasn't immediately available for comment, although a staffer not authorized to speak on the record confirmed that the office has switched from using PDF documents to documents formatted in HTML. The goal is to make the display of lobbying disclosure information more complete and consistent — sometimes a problem with previous documents, the staffer said.

The Senate's IT staff is looking into how to best address the linking issue and is in contact with organizations that still link to the old versions of Senate lobbying documents, the staffer said. They hope to resolve the issue quickly.

In the meantime, the staffer added that anyone wanting to view lobbying documents should for now search through the Senate's website.

(Update, 5:54 p.m.: OpenSecrets.org's lobbying database now features updated links to Senate lobbying documents, fixing the dead link problem. The Senate's own revamped database, however, continues to have some bugs. While most lobbying documents are displaying without issue, others are returning "filing not available" messages. A Senate official says the Senate is aware of the issue and working to fix it.)