Money and Democracy

Published — July 7, 2017 Updated — September 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm ET

Become a #CitizenSleuth and uncover Trump administration mysteries

Center for Public Integrity and Reveal launch major crowdsourcing effort


Since Donald Trump became president in January, he and more than 400 of his appointees have together filed thousands of pages worth of information concerning their assets, income, business ties — and potential conflicts of interest.

The Center for Public Integrity and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting are today asking you help us tell the stories that are hidden in these records by becoming a #CitizenSleuth.

>> Update, Sept. 5, 2017: Read these four #CitizenSleuth investigations here and listen to Reveal’s #CitizenSleuth broadcast.

Scour our searchable, sortable and public database of Trump administration financial disclosures to probe the mysterious companies contained within.

Or perhaps you have a tip about how a key Trump administration official’s friends or colleagues stand to benefit from knowing a presidential confidant.

Maybe you’ll simply spot something that looks strange — missing data, possible errors, someone’s unusual work history or a business listing that doesn’t actually exist.

We’ve worked hard to make these complex records as easy to understand as possible. And we’re here to investigate your tips and answer your questions.

Read this primer to know what to look for. And once you begin your sleuthing, these are the best ways to contact us:

● Leave a public comment within our database. Start at the first tab, on the lower left, and work your way across from left to right. If you see something interesting, make a note in the “Comments” section available for every cell in the spreadsheet.

● Email tips to

● Reach out to us on Twitter using the hashtag #CitizenSleuth, first employed earlier this year as part of a successful effort to unmask donors to Trump’s inaugural committee.

Some of the people you’ll find in the #CitizenSleuth database are household names, such as Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Trump himself. (Trump administration officials are listed in alphabetical order.)

But you’ll find hundreds of other Trump administration officials who serve in critical capacities with minimal fanfare and news coverage.

These under-the-radar hires are no less important. Already, they’re helping shape U.S. policy on matters ranging from military affairs to environmental protection to student debt.

One way to better understand the Trump administration is to understand the vested interests of the president’s lieutenants, whose salaries are now paid for by U.S. taxpayers. After all, you can learn a lot about a person by knowing who they’ve worked for, how they’ve made money or, for that matter, to whom they owe money.

We know this much: Taken together, Trump appointees reported affiliations with at least 950 different limited liability companies/partnerships, at least 350 different corporations and more than 200 nonprofit groupsat the time they accepted federal government jobs.

About the #CitizenSleuth project:

The #CitizenSleuth project evolved from an earlier Center for Public Integrity collaboration with ProPublica—a fellow Pulitzer Prize-winning nonprofit news organization —which has been obtaining the Trump administration disclosures from government sources and has been making them available as PDFs.

Center for Public Integrity’s news developer Chris Zubak-Skees, with the assistance of Dow Jones New Fund intern Iuliia Alieva, extracted data from these disclosure reports and their subsequent amendments using a software tool Zubak-Skees created and made the information searchable and sortable.

Center for Public Integrity staffers also spent dozens of hours cleaning and reformatting data — particularly for Trump’s financial disclosures — before releasing it as part of the Trump administration financial database.

Going forward, journalists Dave Levinthal and Carrie Levine, in collaboration with contributor Christina Wilkie, will lead the Center for Public Integrity’s #CitizenSleuth reporting efforts.

Wilkie’s earlier #CitizenSleuth crowdsourcing project helped identify several errors and anomalies in Trump’s inauguration fundraising disclosures and led to Trump amending and reissuing a mandatory report to the Federal Election Commission.

Washington, D.C.-based correspondent Amy Walters and investigative reporter Matt Smith will lead reporting efforts for Reveal, thePeabody Award-winning program from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, heard on more than 420 public radio stations nationwide.


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