Happy Friday, and enjoy the long weekend! Before you head off for Memorial Day, take a look at today’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.
- Republican legislators introduced legislation yesterday in the Senate and House that would block President Obama’s draft executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose political contributions. (Roll Call $)
- The House passed an amendment to the 2012 defense bill yesterday which would prevent federal agencies from collecting or using information about the political expenditures of federal contractors. (Talking Points Memo)
- A Virginia federal district court struck down the federal ban on corporate contributions to candidates in U.S. v. Danielczyk, finding such a ban unconstitutional under Citizens United. (Election Law Blog)
- According to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), there is a “gap between what the public thinks the [Patriot Act] says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says.” (Wired)
- There are tight ties between Newt Gingrich and Tiffany’s, including a former aide who currently serves as a mining lobbyist for the company. (Washington Examiner)(Business Insider)
- Lobbying disclosure records show that the Fantasy Sports Trade Association has hired its first lobbyist. (The Hill)
- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation into law requiring every political committee to report the name and address of each candidate for whom an in-kind expenditure of $300 or more has been made. (Lobby Comply Blog)
- Despite the earmark ban, the $700 billion defense spending bill under consideration by Congress still allocates money for certain projects under the guise of more general military programs. (North Country Public Radio) Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has stated that she strongly opposes these provisions. (Roll Call $)
- A Wisconsin judge granted struck down a new law limiting collective bargaining rights for many state and local employees, ruling that Wisconsin State Senators violated the state’s open meetings law. (New York Times)
- In recent years the Federal Election Commission has become “less aggressive” in enforcing campaign finance laws. (Roll Call $)
Yesterday the White House and over a dozen federal agencies revealed hundreds of rules and regulations to be reformed. (Politico)
- The Justice Department, which had originally cleared Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), is now likely reopening its criminal investigation. (Reuters)
- Oakland County is posting archived records online in an easily searchable format as part of a transparency initiative that is the first of its kind in Michigan. (The Detroit News)
- A North Carolina House committee killed a bill that would have added into the state Constitution a public right to inspect public records and attend public meetings. (News & Record)
- The Delhi High Court stayed an order that would have allowed citizens to seek information from the Supreme Court under India’s Right-to-Information Act rather than under existing court rules. (Wall Street Journal)
- The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), along with 19 other groups, sent a letter to policymakers advocating in favor of public access to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaint database. (POGO)
- Opinion: CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan writes that the Department of Justice should prosecute former Sen. Ensign, saying that, “Prosecuting Hampton, but not Ensign, is not justice at all.” (Roll Call $)
Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 5/27:
Relevant bills introduced:
- H.R. 2008. A bill to amend title 41, United States Code, to prohibit inserting politics into the Federal acquisition process by prohibiting the submission of political contribution information as a condition of receiving a Federal contract; to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
- H.R. 2035. A bill to amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide for greater disclosure in the process for waiving annual limitation requirements under that Act; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
- H.R. 2038. A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide for limitations on expenditures in elections for the House of Representatives; to the Committee on House Administration.
- S. 1061. A bill to amend title 5 and 28, United States Code, with respect to the award of fees and other expenses in cases brought against agencies of the United States, to require the Administrative Conference of the United States to compile, and make publically available, certain data relating to the Equal Access to Justice Act, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
- S. 1074. A bill to remove the extension of the sunset date for section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
- S. 1100. A bill to amend title 41, United States Code, to prohibit inserting politics into the Federal acquisition process by prohibiting the submission of political contribution information as a condition of receiving a Federal contract; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Transparency events scheduled for 5/27:
- Open NY will host a one-day “OpenGov Camp” on June 5 at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism to discuss issues related to transparency and technology in government. (NY Convergence)