2Day in #OpenGov 8/15/2011

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

News Roundup:

Government

  • Rep. Issa (R-CA) has continued to oversee his financial investments, raising potential conflicts of interest with his congressional work. (New York Times)

Access to Information

  • The IRS has adopted a rule excluding financial rewards for whistleblowers who “planned and initiated” efforts to avoid paying taxes. Critics say the rule is overly broad and will punish the people who can contribute the most to investigations. (POGO Blog)
  • The Department of Defense released a new directive stating that agencies reviewing FOIA requests should start with a “presumption of disclosure.” (Fierce Government)

Lobbying

  • Compared to other large scale financial firms, ratings agencies such as Standard & Poor’s have spent relatively little on lobbying regulators and members of Congress. (Roll Call)
  • Several K-Street lobbyists are voicing support for Rick Perry and signalling that they may begin fundraising for his campaign. (The Hill)

Campaign Finance

  • Presidential candidate Rick Perry will enter the Republican primary field with a network of well connected donors, making him one of the top fundraisers in the race. (New York Times)
  • Rick Perry’s campaign plans to reward “Patriots” who raise more than $500,000 with special rewards, including VIP tickets to the Republican National Convention. (Washington Post)
  • Mitt Romney disclosed his personal finances to the Federal Election Commission. The disclosure report details hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and diverse financial investments. (Roll Call)
  • Howard Schultz, the chairman and chief executive of Starbucks, is calling on corporations and individuals to stop contributing to political campaigns. (New York Times)

Technology

  • Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra’s legacy is defined by open government initiatives and efforts to transition the federal government towards cloud computing. (Next Gov)
  • The Department of Health and Human Services unveiled more details about the health insurance exchanges that are part of the Affordable Health Care Act. The government plans to allow users to connect with plans in real time via interactive applications. (Reuters)

State and Local

  • Montana’s campaign finance law, which requires corporations and individuals to disclose campaign contributions, is being challenged by advocates who say that the law violates constitutional rights articulated in FEC v Citizens United. (Billings Gazette)
  • The Texas Attorney General released an advisory opinion stating that registered lobbyists are not allowed to serve on the state’s Board of Education. (Legal Newsline)
  • The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Maine’s reporting requirement for independent expenditure groups, holding that the campaign finance law promotes “the dissemination of information about those who deliver and finance political speech, thereby encouraging efficient operation of the marketplace of ideas.” (Maine Public Broadcasting Network)

International

  • New Zealand issued a declaration on open and transparent government, agreeing to release large amounts of government data to the public. (Office of the New Zealand Chief Information Officer)
  • Tan Kin Lian, a presidential candidate in Singapore, called for a more transparent government that allows the public to comment on and participate in how the government is run. (Today Online)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 8/15-8/19:

  • None

Relevant bills introduced:

  • None

Transparency events scheduled for 8/15-8/19:

Monday

  • Presidential Candidate Buddy Roemer Discussing Campaign Donations and Special Interest Money. 10:00 a.m. National Press Building, 529 14th St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday

  • Deficit Reduction and the New Congressional Committee: A Primer. 1:30 p.m. The Brookings Institution 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, D.C.
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