The Capitol Bells team and I launched Cloakroom in 2015 with the ambitious goal of creating a community of policymakers dedicated to collaboration and consensus building over partisan brinksmanship. It was an idea I personally felt strongly about. As a former staffer, I couldn’t help noticing the divisions among staff from party line to committee — for all their shared experiences, they weren’t talking to one another. This wasn’t always the case: Once upon a time, Democrats and Republicans socialized and shared camaraderie when passing in the halls or working side-by-side. This led to more grand bargains, better legislation, regular order, and a Congress that WORKED.
Since Cloakroom’s inception, over 6,500 verified Congressional insiders have flocked to our social network, forming an active community of content creators and legislative debaters. We have hosted bipartisan Q&A's with some of the nation's leading policy and political professionals, like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine, David Wessel of the Brookings Institution, Kevin Kosar of the R Street Institute, and even Bill Nye the Science Guy. Everyday our users are going head-to-head with each other and experts on issues no matter how controversial.
Because of Cloakroom’s success fostering discourse and acting as a sounding board for Congressional staff, we have decided to expand. Cloakroom will now be open to everyone working at the 100 most influential groups in politics, such as top think tanks, lobbying firms, media and PR companies, advocacy groups, and campaign organizations. Check out the full list of new members here.
We want to give more verified political insiders the ability to speak openly and freely, break down partisan blockades, and get work done. Cloakroom users can be as anonymous as they want to be. They get full control over their own data, the right not to be tracked, and full end-to-end encrypted chat to keep private conversations private -- even on heavily monitored government networks.
Opening Cloakroom’s doors to more insiders does not mean we are stripping our lively Capitol Hill community of their own exclusivity. Cloakroom is now organized into public channels shared by everyone on the app and private channels accessible only to specific groups, like Congress. However, we expect our current users will value the influx of new professionals on the network. For instance, the "Careers" channel will receive a fresh infusion of seasoned veterans offering advice to political newbies and hot job leads.
Connecting Capitol Hill to the rest of the political economy has the potential to harness the power of technology in politics like never before. Cloakroom includes tools that allow policy experts to share their positions on bills to virtually lobby their colleagues, generate big data about the best and worst policy proposals, and bring the secret discussions of back room deals to light.Are you ready to bring politics into the 21st century? Download Cloakroom today!