Kevin Connor

Kevin Connor is the director of the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI), a watchdog research organization focused on corporate and government accountability. PAI conducts "power research," investigative research that brings transparency to how power relationships shape policy in the United States. PAI's research has consistently challenged the role of big money and corporate power in our democracy, garnering major media attention and prompting significant accountability measures and reforms. PAI takes a data-driven, movement-oriented approach to its work, and develops and maintains LittleSis.org (the opposite of Big Brother), an online wiki database tracking information on powerful people and organizations. Kevin co-founded PAI and LittleSis.org in 2008. Prior to that, he worked as a strategic researcher at SEIU and as a freelance corporate accountability researcher. His freelance projects included an early analysis of Wall Street banks’ role in causing the financial crisis.

LittleSis is a free database detailing the connections between powerful people and organizations. They bring transparency to influential social networks by tracking the key relationships of politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, financiers, and their affiliated institutions. Helping answer questions such as: Who do the wealthiest Americans donate their money to? Where did White House officials work before they were appointed? Which lobbyists are married to politicians, and who do they lobby for? All of this information is public, but scattered. They bring it together in one place. Their data derives from government filings, news articles, and other reputable sources. Some data sets are updated automatically; the rest is filled in by their community.

LittleSis is meant to support the work of journalists, watchdogs, and grassroots activists. They’re bringing together a community of citizens who believe in transparency and accountability where it matters most.


Session: Mapping the Powers That Be

Over the past century, journalists, activists, and artists – from the early muckrakers, to civil rights movement researchers, to the artwork of Mark Lombardi – have used the methods of power structure research to analyze and challenge power networks in American society, often to extraordinary effect. In an era marked by unprecedented concentrations of wealth and power, the need for this research is especially clear. This talk will explore current modes of power structure research and future possibilities, with a focus on two online tools: LittleSis.org and Oligrapher.

Panel: Tech-Driven Activism

How can code-based practices contribute to effective activism? How can activist approaches allow us to examine and interrogate systems of technology? In this panel, a diverse group of artists and activists will discuss how they are approaching these questions through their work and research. Moderated by Jer Thorp.