An Interview with Jim Sedor - State and Federal Communications

September 16, 2010  •  

An Interview with Jim Sedor

News You Can Use is a weekly digital news aggregation on the issues of campaign finance, lobbying, procurement, and government ethics. Every week Jim Sedor gathers between 80 and 100 articles, and every Friday morning NYCU is sent out to our subscribers.

Hi Jim! How did NYCU come about? How long have you been associated with it?


The idea for compiling a weekly review of what is happening across the country in ethics, campaign finance, and lobbying originated with Elizabeth Bartz. I came aboard in 2000 to implement what she wanted.


Elizabeth had found the company didn’t have a process to find important information that was out there in a timely way and was missing a lot of things that would affect the business.


When we started, it was just an in-house review of the most recent happenings – it had not even been christened “New You Can Use” yet (a name that Elizabeth also coined).


As it grew, we figured our clients would love to see – and needed to know – what we were finding, so we started sending NYCU out to them by e-mail.

Who is a typical NYCU reader? How does NYCU give them a “heads up” regarding campaign finance and lobbying news?


I don’t know if I can classify a typical reader – maybe someone who subscribes to our services and needs to know what is happening in their field – like lobbyists, campaign finance lawyers, companies that employ lobbyists and give money to candidates, or firms that compete for state contracts.

We often give readers the first word about specific changes in campaign finance or lobbying law in a given state or the federal level. Most of the time, we have been tracking those changes from the beginning and see them through to the end – articles on a bill’s introduction to its signing by the governor.

We also follow scandals closely because those are most often the trigger for reform and you can almost predict at the start of some corruption investigation that there will be changes ahead and it should be monitored. The whole issue of “pay-to-play” reform is an example.

After ten years of gathering news, do any stories stand out? Craziest? Most egregious? Biggest surprise?


I try not to be cynical, but sometimes I can’t help it. I’m not surprised by most stories of graft and quid pro quo deals and the like, although sometimes the sheer scope and audacity involved in a particular story catches my eye.

We had that recently here in Northeast Ohio when it seemed like the whole Cuyahoga County government was indicted for corruption that involved tens of millions of dollars in bribes and crooked contracts.

One case that stands out for sheer strangeness is Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina who said he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but was actually much further south – in Argentina visiting the woman he was having an affair with. Nobody knew where he was.

You have a lot of fun at COGEL Annual Conferences. Can you tell us what happened at one particular COGEL breakfast in Chicago, December 2008?


We were having breakfast at the conference when a person from the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission got a message on his Blackberry and excused himself. When he got back to the table, he said he had pressing business and had to leave – the governor of Illinois had just been arrested and “led away in handcuffs.” That turned out to be the day Rod Blagojevich was arrested.

Can you picture doing NYCU fifteen years ago, prior to the advent of on-line newspapers and super smart search engines?

It would be impossible to do NYCU without the Internet and be as comprehensive – we just couldn’t cover the whole country and really stay on top of things.

According to our tally, you have gathered 41,517 articles in the last 10 years for NYCU. How does that make you feel?

Tired. (Laughs) And it makes me feel like I need a vacation – I’ve been working too hard.

When you break it down like that, it really shows the vast amount of material that has been published on campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics.

I feel a sense of accomplishment – that I have been able to stay on top of this and get most of the important stories that have been out there. We don’t miss much.

It also shows these are issues that are of great importance to a lot of people and reporters will continue to churn out story after story.

Thank you, Jim! All the best to you for another wonderful 10 years!

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