2Day in #OpenGov 8/9/2011

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Here is Tuesday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

Lobbying

  • The Mujahideen-e Khalq, designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, has enlisted former US officials on behalf of its effort to lobby the Department of State to reevaluate its standing with the US government. (Huffington Post)
  • Ratings agencies, such as S&P, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars this year lobbying the federal government on the Dodd-Frank bill and federal regulations. (Politico)
  • Lobbyists may have played a role in convincing the Office of the Inspector General to reverse course and allow the CEO of Forest Labs — which paid a $313 million settlement to the Department of Justice for illegally marketing products in 2010 — to do business with the federal government. (CBS Interactive Business Network)

Campaign Finance

  • Out-of-town retreats with lawmakers and lobbyists are on the rise as lawmakers step up efforts to raise money for the 2012 election cycle. (Politico)
  • The Fantasy Sports Trade Association, which represents various online fantasy sports groups, began fundraising for its newly established political action committee. The organization has also hired a paid lobbyist to push its issues on Capitol Hill. (Politico)
  • Donors are contributing to independent expenditure groups that take advantage of a campaign finance loophole to apparently coordinate their activities with presidential campaigns, raising millions of dollars for individual candidates. (iWatch)

Technology

  • Citing “advances in technology” that made the program obsolete, Speaker Boehner and Nancy Pelosi agreed to end the Congressional page program. (TechPresident)
  • Steven VanRoekel, President Obama’s appointment to become Chief Information Officer, has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the President and Democrats since 2008. Many other CIOs have contributed to political campaigns in the past. (NextGov)
  • Twitter and Facebook have been at the heart of the riots in London. The social media tools have been put to use by protesters and clean-up volunteers alike. (Yahoo!)

State and Local

  • Outside groups have funneled at least $25 million towards Wisconsin’s recall elections, which are unfolding across the state over the next two weeks. (Yahoo!)
  • Recent court rulings in Pennsylvania have made it more difficult for citizens to navigate the state’s public records law by requiring requesters to submit detailed responses to agencies that deny their claims. (The Inquirer Digital)
  • A state legislator in Michican introduced legislation to prohibit state schools from using public resources to lobby the government. (mlive)
  • The California State Assembly signed a $180,000 contract with a lobbying firm to represent the state and lobby the federal government. (Sacramento Bee)

International

  • Special interests in Australia spent thousands on campaigns to influence the 2011 census, including fierce campaigns between religious groups in response to one of the census questions. (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • The number of lobbyists in Australia has nearly doubled since reform legislation was introduced last year. (Courier Mail)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 8/9:

  • None

Relevant bills introduced:

  • None

Transparency events scheduled for 8/9:

  • None
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