Ryan asked for federal help as he championed cuts

Ryan asked for federal help as he championed cuts

Organisation: Associated Press (United States)

Publication Date: 06/04/2014



As a member of Congress, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan wasn’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act. But that didn’t stop us when Ryan was chosen as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate. So we turned to every federal agency - whose files are covered under the federal open-records law - for copies of letters or emails that might identify Ryan’s favored causes, names of any constituents who sought favors and more. Over the next seven weeks, the stack of pages the government released grew taller. We scanned in more than 9,000 pages into PDF and TIF files, and uploaded them to AP's internal instance of DocumentCloud. We discovered multiple instances in which Ryan had sought government funding in the form of expanding food stamps, federally guaranteed business loans, grants to invest in green technology and money under President Barack Obama’s health care law -- the kinds of government largess that he was campaigning against.

Technologies used for this project:

The project was a mix of open-source tools and old-fashioned reporting. Mostly, it relied on text-recognition software to cull our documents into data. But it also took a good deal of programming to arrange the documents in a useful form so that Overview could parse them. After seeing some revealing results – that Ryan lobbied repeatedly for programs he publicly were against – it was a matter of pressing Romney/Ryan campaign officials for answers, as well as drawing upon my past reporting of Ryan’s speeches and statements he made on the matter.

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