Today in #OpenGov 8/19/2014


Keep reading for today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including a deceiving downturn in nationwide lobbying expenditures, the Hungarian Prime Minister’s goal of an “illiberal” state granting him more power, and an Illinois House representative’s coyness over his tax returns. A newspaper with the headline Open Gov National News

  • A Center for Responsive Politics report again found that nationwide lobbying expenses are shrinking. But even if explicit lobbying expenditures have fallen, this trend may be a harbinger of some darker news: lobbyists increasingly engaged in “soft,” less overt forms of influence peddling. (Washington Post)
  • Alexander W. Joel, the civil liberties protection officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, wrote a response to former State Department employee John Tye’s New York Times piece about Executive Order 12333, one of the chief documents on government surveillance standards. (Politico)
  • The Department of Energy’s Chief Information Officer, Robert Brese, is stepping down from his role. He will leave the DOE on Sept. 5th. (Executive Gov)
  • Harry Reid’s reelection is more than two years off, but the Koch brothers’ political machine is already methodically laying the groundwork that will be used to try to take him out. Nonprofit groups led by Koch allies have established operations in Nevada, and have begun airing ads attacking the state senator and wooing key demographics. (Politico)

International News

  • Two draft laws dealing with lobbying, written by different parties, have been submitted for the September Slovakian parliamentary session. (Slovak Spectator)
  • As the West holds its breath waiting to see if Russia will intervene in Ukraine, there is one country looking to Moscow for inspiration: Hungary. In a speech in late July, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he wanted to turn Hungary into an “illiberal state” and used Russia as a model example. The “illiberal state” involves fewer checks on Orban’s power, as well as closer surveillance on groups like foreign NGOs. (Al Jazeera America)

State and Local News

  • Questionable campaign practices at the state and local level prompted California lawmakers to approve three reform bills Monday, including one adopted after a lobbyist was fined for hosting fundraisers at his home. Gifts from lobbyists are now outlawed, while the annual overall gift limit for lawmakers will drop from $440 to $200. (Sacramento Bee)
  • Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, is under renewed scrutiny for potentially violating campaign finance laws by tapping official Senate funds to cover the cost of fundraising trips. (Politico)
  • After months of prodding, Democratic representative Brad Schneider of Illinois released his tax returns. But his disclosure covers only one year – and Mr. Schneider has abruptly changed his filing status in an apparent effort to keep his wealthy wife’s income private. (Chicago Business)

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