Today in #OpenGov 7/22/2014


Keep reading for today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis including new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s generous donation influx from lobbyists and executives alike, a lack of transparency as Russian-backed militants continue to hamper analysis of the tragic crash of MH17, and a lobbying battle in Sacramento over popular ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.

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National News

  • Louisiana Representative and incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was the recent recipient of $150,000 in campaign donations late June, following the announcement of his new leadership role. His donors? Senior executives at Washington lobbying firms to committees representing the defense, financial, and medical industries. The money’s use? Recouping after his campaign for Whip, during which Scalise donated $30,000 to House Republican colleagues, including Cantor, and racked up bills in the $10,000 range at restaurants where he had dinner with his campaign team. (National Journal)
  • The K street lobbying shop Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld beat out the struggling Squire Patton Boggs in quarterly lobbying revenues, according to numbers released by both firms Monday. In 2014 Q2, Akin Gump reported $8.6 million in lobbying billings. (Politico)
  • In a New York Times Op-Ed, Sen. Chuck Schumer called for an end to the party primary system in elections, instead embracing California’s “top-two” primary system. He stated, “[A party primary] favors more ideologically pure candidates, [and] has contributed to the election of more extreme officeholders and increased political polarization. It has become a menace to governing.” (New York Times)

International News

  • Following the tragic crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, transparency is opaque as Russian-backed rebels continue to make access to the debris site difficult and hamper the collection and analysis of evidence. Only days after the crash did rebels turn over the plane’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators. (Washington Times)
  • An investigation by Free Tibet found that the Chinese Government uses over 100 fake Twitter accounts to spread misinformation about contested regions like Tibet and Xinjiang. The accounts portray these areas in a rosy light, compared to their true state as politically contentious and occasionally violent territories. (The Verge)
  • While the Canadian Parliament is recognized for efficient disclosure and freedom to information turnaround–with 50 percent of requests processed in 30 days or fewer–the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Environment Canada noticeably lagged in disclosure. Their information turnarounds averaged four months. (The Star)

State and Local News

  • While rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have powerfully impacted taxi and transport markets in cities nationwide, a lobbying battle over the services is taking hold in Sacramento, CA: insurance providers and consumers attorneys are lobbying state lawmakers to mandate rideshare services to buy the same insurance policies as taxis. (GovTech)
  • A decade after leaving office, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown registered with the city as a paid lobbyist. Brown signed up to represent high-rise developers battling City Hall over an extra $1 billion in special assessments they’re being asked to pay for new real estate developments in the city. (SF Gate)
  • The Massachusetts State Senate will debate a revised campaign finance bill that would force super PACs into the timely disclosure of contributors–an attempt by lawmakers to add transparency to the political process in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. A similar bill previously passed the State House in June. (WBUR)

Events Today

Events Tomorrow

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