Who has the best Web sites and social media outreach in Congress?
The Congressional Management Foundation recognized more than 80 lawmakers this week with Golden Mouse Awards for “excellence in online communication.”
Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy (D) earned one for creating a photo contest that highlighted polluted waterways in his state. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk (R) landed one for using Twitter to share his recovery from a stroke. And Pennsylvania Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D) picked up one of the top prizes for Web-site development.
Those are just a few examples of the lawmakers whose digital offerings can serve as a model for how to interact with constituents online, according to the Congressional Management Foundation.
“These legislators not only improve their own standing with their constituents, they benefit the entire Congress,” said Bradford Fitch, president and chief executive of the good-government group.
The awards, which have gone out every two years since 2002, come in two categories: Best Congressional Web Sites and Best Citizen Engagement on Social Media. Four senators and 12 House members earned gold awards for their Web sites, while seven senators and 10 House lawmakers earned the same mark in the social media category.
Aside from handing out accolades, the foundation also criticized legislators for not doing enough to enhance online engagement. In a report on the awards, the group said most congressional Web sites lack “substantive elements of accountability,” such as information about voting records, positions on key issues and the actions legislators have taken on behalf of their constituents.
“Too few are using social media to build trust and understanding of Congress, and too many are employing 1960s-style ‘Mad Men’ advertising strategies — repetitive and simplistic jargon wielded like a hammer to hit citizens on the head over and over again,” the foundation said in its report.
Despite those issues, the group said current lawmakers are showing signs of catching on, with 79 percent of their Web sites providing voting records, compared to 56 percent in the previous Congress.
For those who can’t resist a good contest between the political parties, Democrats earned twice as many awards as Republicans, but GOP-led congressional panels won nearly all of the committee awards.
And a few extra tidbits: Brothers Carl and Sander Levin, who represent Michigan in the Senate and House, respectively, both finished with gold awards in the Web site category, as did five California lawmakers — perhaps they had help from Silicon Valley.
Here’s a complete list of the 2014 Gold Mouse winners, in alphabetical order:
Best Senate Web Sites: Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
Best House Web Sites: Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
Best Senate Engagement on Social Media: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.).
Best House Engagement on Social Media: Stephen Lee Fincher (R-Tenn.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Michael M. Honda (R-Calif.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.).
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