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Sunlight Weekly Roundup: Money in politics has made "corruption institutional by allowing monied interests to have so much influence in campaigning ..."

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  • Michigan House democrats just proposed a series of bills to increase transparency and take on money in politics. The bills will increase the amount of time lawmakers are required to wait before becoming lobbyists. Furthermore, they also introduced an amendment to Michigan’s constitution “requiring corporations to increase disclosure of lobbying and political activities and banning the state government from awarding contracts worth more than $100,000 to contractors and vendors who make political donations.” Governor Rick Snyder has expressed a commitment to increased transparency, maintaining, “We should have more frequent and better disclosure of campaign contributions, and we should have stronger rules governing employment of people who negotiate state contracts while in government service.” In an email about the crippling influence of money in politics, Central Michigan University professor Andrew Blom argues, “The biggest ethical problem in contemporary American politics, as I see it, is that we have effectively made corruption institutional by allowing monied interests to have so much influence in campaigning and, as a result, access in lobbying.” For the whole story, read John Irwin’s post on Central Michigan Life.
  • In Kentucky, circuit court judge Tyler Gill has taken issue with Govenor Steve Beshear recent editorial defending his administration's appeal of a court decision that ordered some child abuse records be open to the public. Gill takes issue with some of the governor's contentions in a column published in the Courier-Journal. He maintains that “openness and accountability are the better policies.” Gil believes that state-imposed  secrecy is often used  to “hide state incompetence or misconduct than to protect the citizens of Kentucky.” He maintains, “While we can always find some downside to open government, the consequences of government secrecy are far worse. We need only look to the courts and governments of totalitarian regimes such as China, North Korea, Iran or Cuba for this lesson." For more information, check out Mike Farrell's post on the Kentucky Open Government Blog.

 

  • Maryland congressman Sandy Rosenberg has proposed a bill in the General Assembly that would extend broader protection from public information requests to professors at the state's public universities. According to David Krajicek from One Minute Lawyer, Rosenberg was inspired to draft the bill after “ attempts to draw academic researchers into political battles. He cited the Virginia attorney general, a global warming warming skeptic, who tried to use his subpoena powers to build a fraud case against a climatology professor, and an attempt by a Wisconsin Republican official who sought the emails of a history professor, trying to demonstrate that he had misused his public account to stir political unrest during the state's battles over organized labor.” While several academics and professors supportive of the proposed  legislation, open-government advocates have raised transparency concerns regarding the bill.
  • The New York City comptroller has revamped NYC Checkbook, the city’s checkbook website. The site already allows citizens to see every check the city issues. Now, the site will offer "software developers direct, programmatic access to a comprehensive trove of information about New York's fiscal health.” The revamped site will boast detailed information about the city’s budget, contracts, payments, and vendors. Comptroller Ari Hoffnung  maintained, "Our goal is to make New York City the most financially transparent government in the United States.” For the whole story, check out Nick Judd’s post on Tech President.
Connect with other transparency bloggers in this Transparency Bloggers Google group   and see what others are doing in the transparency movement by joining this Citizens for Open Government Google Group.