WASHINGTON - November 17 – Brian Donlen, from Philadelphia, PA has won a $5000 prize for his winning 30 second video critical of the lack of openness and ethics in Congress, as part of the Sunlight Foundation's "Congress in 30 Seconds" contest. Donlen's submission was rated the best out of more than 370 submissions from across the country.
The ad, titled, "Congressional Recruitment Commercial" can be viewed at www.CongressIn30Seconds.com.
Donlen said, "The video was really just a way to illustrate, in a sarcastic way, the worst fears people have about what their Congressperson does while no one's watching. I think the Punch Clock Campaign is an important step in the direction of greater transparency. But I believe Congress must also enact substantive ethics and lobbying reform with a real mechanism for oversight and punishment of rule violators."
Donlen's video showed a series of pictures appropriate to his message, over funk music. The text overlay read, "Do you enjoy the finer things? Gambling with other people's money? Accepting cash for favors? Sexually harassing interns? Taxpayer funded vacations with the mistresses? Then come join us. The few. The shameless. The U.S. Congress."
The tool used to create the videos provided a set number of clips of public domain cartoons, videos, and photos, and audio clips ranging from the Brandenburg concerto to creative-commons licensed funk. Users could mix and match the sound and video, and provide their own text overlays. Users could then email their video to anyone.
Videos were judged on three critera: Enjoyment, Humor, and Effectiveness.
"The creativity of all the videos submitted was only matched by the sharp criticism people had of the last Congress," said Zephyr Teachout, national director of the Sunlight Foundation. "Brian's video is both hilarious and extremely blunt. Clearly, as the midterm elections showed, he was not the only one losing confidence in our elected officials. This should serve as a stern warning to the incoming Congress Americans want their government to be much more open."
Originally a contest created to allow users to imagine what their Member of Congress did all day, users quickly adapted the platform tool to create various types of political ads with various conclusions. This did not surprise those at the Sunlight Network.
"We knew all along that people would branch out and begin to create videos that didn't directly answer the question we put forth," said Teachout. "It just goes to prove that citizens and activists have a lot to say about the current state of affairs, and very much want to be listened to. No matter what pundits might say, people are deeply engaged in the political debate, and paying close attention."
Founded in January, 2006, the mission of the Sunlight Foundation is to strengthen the relationship between lawmakers and their constituents. Sunlight puts information and tools in citizens' hands so they can learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing. Our ultimate goal of full transparency by Congress, its Members and staff will help reduce corruption, ensure greater accountability, and foster public trust in this vital institution of democracy.