Today in OpenGov: Will the FTC put some sunlight on dark money?


TOP NEWS: Lawmakers are urging the FTC to investigate the source of ads attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. [ABC NEWS] Sunlight’s Libby Watson talked to ABC about the difficulty of identifying where the ads came from.

“I do this full time and I found it really hard to find out who these people are,” Watson said. “The public –- people with actual jobs — would have no hope finding out who these people are. They’re attacking the CFPB for not being accountable. The problem is these people aren’t accountable to anybody, because we don’t even know who they are.”

VOTE 2.1: is trying to make it easier to register to vote. Whether it “revolutionizes elections” in the United States remains to be seen. When asked how their service differs from, responded that they “build streamlined tools and aggregate data,” while the Feds redirect citizens to state websites to help themselves. [Mic]

WHAT ARE YOU READING? OpenTheGov publishes a daily digest of news highlights of interest to the open government community. Please let us know what you read regularly, along with any tips, analyses or fresh ideas.



  • Democracy Fund published a systems map of congressional dysfunction. [Democracy Fund]
  • In the latest chapter of the revolving door between the Obama administration and Silicon Valley, former Department of Education official Jim Shelton signed on to head up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in education. [Ed Surge]
  • The Secret Service is taking on a new credentialing role for the political conventions. Journalists are crying foul. [Politico]
  • A judge approved a plan to take sworn depositions from former aides to Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email server. [Politico] [AP]
  • Separately, a Romanian hacker claimed to have breached Clinton’s server. [Fox News]
  • Congressional leaders asked the GAO to audit agencies’ FOIA compliance. [FierceGovernmentIT]
  • The White House released a new report on the intersection of big data and civil rights. Here’s the cautionary part:

    “The algorithmic systems that turn data into information are not infallible—they rely on the imperfect inputs, logic, probability, and people who design them. Predictors of success can become barriers to entry; careful marketing can be rooted in stereotype. Without deliberate care, these innovations can easily hardwire discrimination, reinforce bias, and mask opportunity.” [White House blog]

  • The White House is going to host a series of public workshops on artificial intelligence around the U.S. They will be live-streamed.

State and Local


  • An investigation by USA TODAY found that “social welfare” groups created as 501(c)(4) nonprofits are increasingly influencing public policy at the state level, often without disclosure of funders. [USA TODAY]
  • There’s a lot of money flowing into ballot initiatives. [Bloomberg]
  • The Flint water crisis could push Michigan to adopt public records reforms. [MLive]
  • A judge fined Hennepin County, Minnesota, for violating the state’s data practices law, after its sluggish response to a public records request for contracts and correspondence around biometric tracking technology, and ordered it to make millions of email messages publicly accessible by June 1. [Star Tribune]
  • Chattanooga’s police department agreed to release more police data. [Times Free Press]
  • New Hampshire’s House will consider standards for police body cameras. [Statescoop]
  • Eric Gordon argues that “when government officials ponder the definition of 21st century citizenship, marked by the promise of increasingly usable services through good technology design, they should avoid confusing the satisfied customer with the happy citizen.” [Governing]



  • The president of Canada’s Treasury Board announced an interim government directive that would eliminate fees for access to information requests after the initial $5. [Global News] [Globe and Mail]
  • Managing recording and information to support open government is a key pain point for African countries. (To be fair, it’s a challenge everywhere.) [World Bank]
  • The Web Foundation released a regional report focused on Africa. [Open Data Barometer]
  • Josh Powell continued the discussion kicked off by Tom Steinberg and John Wonderlich, focusing on the challenges around procurement. [Open Contracting]



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