Virginia Public Access Project adds transparency to money in politics

Founded by David Poole in 1997, the whole idea behind VPAP's work is to make the money behind the candidate be more transparent and accessible.
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 10:20 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On the walls inside the Virginia Public Access Project, it’s clear politics is the passion here.

“We’re trying to take complicated data sets, information and bill them down into bite-size pieces that just provide information and let the viewer determine what that information may mean to them,” said Chris Piper, executive director of VPAP.

Piper is no stranger to elections. The familiar face used to run the ballot box as the former Virginia Elections commissioner.

“Slowly over time, it grew to include campaign finance reports but also conflict of interest gift reporting as well as lobbyists reports,” said Piper.

Founded by David Poole in 1997, the whole idea behind VPAP’s work is to make the money behind the candidate be more transparent and accessible.

“Most of the work we do is ahead of time, but on election night, hopefully, everything is set and ready to go,” said Jason Kostyk, VPAP data engineer.

NBC12 got rare access to the organization’s main data crunch center in downtown Richmond.

Inside, the team uses integrated methods to provide unique and valuable insights into decisions that impact your family and community. Their data visualizations turn complex data into easily digestible information.

“I think knowledge is power, especially with traditional constituencies who don’t get involved, so folks of color, folks of low income. They can just go to VPAP.org and not have to go to three different offices or websites to find information,” said Mark Carter, VPAP’s director of Development.

The group even provides real-time election results and analysis after the polls close.

“You can take this bite-size piece of information and you don’t have to be an expert in anything, but you can certainly consume that information and use it to make informed decisions when you go to the ballot box,” said Piper.

VPAP is also growing. The group is looking for a new building for more space.

You can find VPAP here.